If you didn't catch this article in the Daily Sentinel, read on! Join us in downtown Nacogdoches for some SUNDAY shopping!
It is a common misconception that “everything is closed on Sunday” in Downtown Nacogdoches. It becomes very easy in our society to make generalizations but we have a dedicated few who have set the stage for growth and hour expansion in Downtown Nacogodoches.
There are a multitude of businesses open on Sunday who do very well and have for many years. Gerry Larabee, owner of Heart of Texas, on the square, will say one Sunday boasts her highest sales, and the next Sunday will be very slow. However, her experience is that her collective sales for the month are beneficial and being open on Sundays is a good practice for her business.
As the Communications/Main Street Director, it is very important to the Main Street Advisory Board and myself, to encourage business owners to be open hours suitable for tourists and locals. We often encourage new businesses coming to downtown to stay open past 5 p.m. and on Sundays. And many do.
The frustrations from the public are not new in that we ALL wish Downtown Nacogdoches business owners could keep “Wal-Mart hours”. However, after two years at the City of Nacogdoches, I’ve learned that it’s not always as simple as it seems.
All of the shops downtown are run by independent families and their contribution is truly a labor of love for the store owners. For example, take John and Rebecca Gall who own Twigs & Tin, they have three beautiful children who they must get to school and from school each day. They are also trying to instill Christian and family values in their home. Therefore, being open on Sunday presents a challenge to their work-family balance. Another example is newlywed Claire Drewery, who owns Spring & Prince. She has obligations at home and with her family and also doesn’t care to ask someone else to give up that time on Sunday to keep her store open. There are also those who have been patiently waiting for the Fredonia Hotel to reopen to begin holding extended hours.
At City Hall, the Main Street Advisory Board meets monthly to discuss how to help downtown merchants, plan events, and dream big about the future of Downtown Nacogdoches. Members of this board are downtown residents, local community members, and store owners.
I am very privileged to work with a group of people who care about Downtown as much as I do. They consistently offer new ideas and wonderful advice to better Nacogdoches. Recently, we have been talking a lot about “big ideas” for Downtown Nacogdoches. Bringing new business to the district, expanding Downtown’s retail footprint, and long-range planning have been topics of discussion. Extended business hours have also been part of the conversation. From me getting to know my downtown family for the past two years, I know first-hand that it’s not easy to embark on a lofty goal that challenges the day-to-day life of store owners. I also know that we are never going to inspire and implement change if we don’t begin having a conversation with store owners about what it would take to stay open later and longer. After all, why should I (who also enjoys my Sunday at home) impart that on people when I’m not making the same sacrifice? A fair argument in my opinion.
Therefore, we have facilitated conversations with Downtown merchants to gauge interest in being open, even for a short time in the afternoons, on Sundays. This is in response to a long-time conversation on this topic and to the Fredonia Hotel opening last month. These conversations have led us to bring a large group of stores together to TRY to be open on Sundays. However, to keep this trend going we must support these businesses on this day…and any other day of the week.
This is a lofty aspiration but one I believe will benefit the business owners due to increased tourism traffic. I’ve also read studies that have found consistency is key when it
comes to reaching local shoppers on Sundays. Therefore, we will try and encourage store owners to stay open consistently until we begin sending the message to locals that we are a great place to visit on a Sunday afternoon!
One study found this can take upwards of seven years before the trend is set and the public becomes fully aware of the extended hours. In our instant satisfaction driven world, this is a hard thing to imagine. Nevertheless, we must start somewhere. If the store owners do not feel it benefits them to remain open (i.e. low sales) they will go back to being closed. Therefore, I encourage you to not only #ShopNacFirst this Sunday but to say “thank you” when you are there to ensure this luxury remains for years to come and continues to thrive.