SOUTHINGTON — Turn out was light for an inaugural Center Street business promotional event Saturday, and the hope from business owners is that with greater promotion and lead time, attendance will grow in future years.
The event, dubbed “Good Ole’ Summertime” and run by the Southington Merchants Association, took place on Center Street and the Town Green. The event was billed similarly to a sidewalk sale, but with few people walking along the closed street, the critical mass needed to make real promotion possible was lacking.
Amy Kline, owner of My Wife’s Shop, relocated her gift shop to Center Street in February. She considered Saturday as her store’s grand opening, however, and procured a few vendors to host tables outside her store.
She was disappointed in the turnout and attributed the low numbers to the lack of publicity. She pointed to the town farmer’s market and the popular Music on the Green series as demonstrating that with more promotion the crowds will come out.
Saturday didn’t shake Kline’s belief in Center Street. She described moving there as “the answer to a prayer.”
“The neighbors all around us seem to support each other,” she said.
Just down the street at Frootie Tooties, a candy shop that opened about a month ago, music was playing and kids and parents were coming and going.
“We’ve been so busy,” said Tara Styring, co-owner of the shop along with her mother Treasure Nadwairski.
Styring said that their business relies on two main factors — school being out and nice weather. When you have both, parents start looking for something for their kids to do.
“The feedback has been great because they didn’t know we were here,” Nadwairski said.
They, too, believe that with more outreach the foot traffic found at their place Saturday could’ve extended to other businesses on the street.
Theresa Malloy, one of the event organizers and owner of Paul Gregory’s deli, counts this year’s effort as a learning experience. She agrees that they needed longer lead time — planning only started a couple of months ago — and more advertising.
“It’s a little slow, but is the first one and we didn’t know what to expect,” Malloy said.
She remembers attendance the first years of the Southington Merchants Association’s annual White Christmas event being scanty. Now, the event is a huge success.
“It took a little to get them out,” Malloy said.
With the idea of creating a summer version of the Christmas celebration in mind, Malloy will go back to the drawing board with the rest of the association to plan for next year. “It’s trial and error,” she said.