Part 2:  What Successful Small-Town Downtowns Do

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Last week’s article presented two types of small-town downtowns:  the first, an active place full of experimentation, excitement, and energy.  The second, a place devoid of energy, complacent, and waiting for someone to solve its problems.  Successful small-town downtowns have a shared vision and a dedication to bringing that vision alive.


The top five things that successful small-town downtowns do were discussed last week;   here are the next five things:


  1. Branding. Successful downtowns understand that the downtown is owned by the community, not the businesses. That means getting regular citizens (not just the same old cliques) involved in making it a great place. That could mean art projects, citizen-led events, walking tours with folks who have interesting stories.  It is not about putting decals on windows or doing more posts on Facebook. Branding is what people think about you and what it means to experience you.
  2. Uniform store hours. Successful downtowns develop uniform business hours to address one of the biggest complaints of consumers today: “I work and they’re not open after 5 pm!”  You can’t make shopping improvements if only one or two stores are committed. Uniform hours help in this age where people do most of their spending at night and at home online.
  3. Knowledge building. Successful downtowns bring experts on a regular basis to provide insights to help businesses be successful. This is called Wanting Everyone to be Successful.
  4. Doing. Successful downtowns don’t sit around being inactive, passing the buck, blaming others. Successful downtowns uncomplicate the process of creativity. Doing 20 things and being successful at 12 of them means they have 12 new initiatives.
  5. Customer service training. Successful downtowns know with social media a downtown’s image can be seriously damaged by complaints about customer service. Store managers play a huge role in customer service training. Successful downtowns know that negativity often paints an entire downtown, not just the store where it happened.


The preceding were excerpts from an article written by Gregg McLachlan, a rural marketing strategist from Ontario, Canada.   For the full article: