Downtown Craig has few vacant storefronts and the potential to be one of Craig's most-frequented districts, but it will take more than unique items on the shelves and a cashier behind the counter to make it an area that draws an abundance of shoppers.
The Economic Devel-opment Partnership invested $5,000 to hire a revitalization consultant to help Downtown Business Association members strategize about how to become a hub of activity and economic growth in the community. The city followed by inviting a main street revitalization expert.
Both consultants offered ideas and inspiration, but they cautioned businesses that the real work had to come from within the organization and said that all the planning in the world is for nothing if implementation isn't a top priority.
We know that small-business owners are caught between a rock and a hard place. There's not always enough business to hire extra help to extend hours, and business owners know that a nights-and-weekends market exists that they can't serve.
The bottom line is that the leg work has to come from the businesses who expect to reap the rewards.
If customers are begging for evening and Sunday shopping hours, as a business community we have to deliver. No amount of planning or dreaming can make things happen if every business in downtown isn't willing to be open in the evenings, on the weekends and during lunch hour.
The consultants noticed that many businesses are closed at noon for the lunch hour, which also happens to be a critical time during the day when community residents make purchases and run errands.
If the store isn't open at lunch, isn't open after work and isn't open on the weekends, the customers cannot do business in this community.
Business owners have to understand that most of their customers are tied to 9-to-5 jobs that don't give time off for shopping.
It's time for the Downtown Business Association to make a tangible plan and follow it through. The market research and consulting results all indicate that the people will come and their revenues will increase, but business owners have to be willing to take the risk. It's no one else's job, nor anyone else's responsibility, but all downtown businesses will reap the rewards.
The bottom line: The downtown businesses need to operate more as a business and less like a club.