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A Love Note to Locals: Downtown Businesses Want You Back

The gentle glow from romantic lampposts softens the transition to night, exotic fragrances waft from charming spaces, tantalizing meals are awaiting your delight in artfully adorned settings and cozy fireplaces are burning for you, the local. Flagstaff’s downtown businesses love you, have always loved you and they want you back.

For more than 25 years, there has been a consistent effort by downtown businesses to create the setting that attracts both tourists and locals. It has paid off, but many businesses realized residents did not seem to be as engaged in downtown events and shopping as they once were.

To rekindle this relationship, the Downtown Business Alliance (DBA) and Local First Arizona have teamed up to create opportunities and events that would appeal and cater to the local crowd – after all, the vast majority of the downtown businesses are owned by local folks. They understand you. They know what you want. They know what you need.

“Our goal is to connect with locals, while welcoming visitors; both are vital to our economy and community,” said Terry Madeksza, executive director of the Downtown Business Alliance. “Over the past few years we have been working to engage residents through numerous events, business promotions and creating a renewed sense of community in the downtown area.”

Some of the activities sponsored by the DBA and local businesses include the Weatherford Hotel’s Great Pinecone Drop on New Year’s Eve; summertime Movies on the Square and Winter Movies at the Orpheum; First Friday Artwalk; Local Shopping Passport for holiday deals; Holiday Luminaria Stroll; pub crawls; free concerts and dancing; and more.

Shoppers enjoy music from a group of singers during a Locals’ Night in downtown Flagstaff.

 Feel the Love

September 2016 kicked off the first evening downtown focused on Flagstaff residents: Locals’ Night. The monthly event takes place from 3 to 7 p.m., every third Tuesday, and is geared toward the local crowd and doing something special for them, in their downtown. Businesses offer discounts and promotions, some as much as 50 percent off food, drinks and merchandise. Approximately 20 downtown businesses give discounts to local patrons.

The DBA worked with businesses and chose Tuesday night because it is traditionally a slower night in downtown, and most locals are in town rather than traveling.

John Vanlandingham, Downtown Business Alliance president and business owner, says the Alliance is always looking for ways to promote shopping locally and supporting local entrepreneurs.

“I love that this night is built around our locals and our community,” Vanlandingham said. “We value our small business owners and residents who make the downtown area such a wonderful and unique place to shop, eat and drink, or just walk around and chat with other locals. Flagstaff’s historic downtown is a great mix of old and new. Our goal is to continue to build and support our downtown businesses while making it a place for residents and tourists alike.”

Blendz Winery and Bar is one of the newer downtown businesses, open less than two years. As long-time Flagstaff residents, owners Doug Umlah and Randi Rolle said they wanted to be sure to cater to locals as well as visitors. Umlah recognized that locals were not coming downtown as often as they used to.

Mountain Sports and Mix are two of more than 20 downtown businesses that offer discounts to residents on Locals’ Night.

 Baby, Come Back

“I often heard from friends that they rarely go downtown anymore,” Umlah said. “While parking can be tricky, especially on the weekends, it is less of an issue on weeknights, requiring at most a block or two stroll to get to your destination, during which you can shop at several locally owned businesses. The locals’ night has increased business and walk-in traffic.”

The next Locals’ Night is Feb. 21. Parking is free and available in lots at Flagstaff City Hall, the Coconino County Administrative Center, Chase Bank and National Bank of Arizona after 5 p.m.

The atmosphere is there for you, dear local, to come on back, give downtown Flagstaff another chance and be reminded of why you fell in love in the first place. FBN



 Story and Photo by Starla Collins




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