Press-Republican

June 12, 2013

Downtown businesses applaud First Weekend

CHRIS FASOLINO
Press-Republican

PLATTSBURGH — The First Weekend and Biggest Loser events held last Friday, Saturday and Sunday led to increased activity downtown, local business owners say.

“More people came in,” said Supanee Gilbert of Sawatdee Thai Restaurant on Bridge Street. “I think about 20 percent more compared to a regular weekend.

“It does help.”

The inception of the First Weekend initiative, aimed to help revitalize downtown Plattsburgh, brought street musicians, an Art Walk and free activities to Margaret Street and its environs.

Some restaurants and merchants offered discounts to those who attended.

North Country Cultural Center for the Arts, Vision2Action, Adirondack Young Professionals and downtown businesses and organizations worked together to make First Weekend happen.

That celebration on Friday and Saturday was followed by The Biggest Loser Walk/Race on Sunday, which also drew crowds.

RAINY WEATHER

If the weather had been less rainy, some felt, First Weekend would have been even better.

Kim Costello, an employee at DressCode on Bridge Street, said that while the increase was not as much as she was expecting, “that had nothing to do with the events — it was the weather. 

“If it was beautiful, we would have been packed.

“We can’t get a break with this weather,” she added wryly.

Business increased at The Pepper of Friday and Saturday, said employee Sierra Rasco. 

“It was steady; it was packed,” she said of the Mexican restaurant on City Hall Place. “And it was nice to have the music going on outside.”

WALL-TO-WALL

Jason Ormsby, an employee at the Koffee Kat on Margaret Street, noticed a dramatic increase in visitors to the coffeehouse. 

“It was wall-to-wall people,” he said. “The weather wasn’t so good, but anytime the city can do events that increase foot traffic, it boosts business all around.”

Ormsby was excited about the initiative, which is scheduled to repeat July 5 and 6, Aug. 2 and 3 and Sept. 6 and 7.

“The more you can get foot traffic, the better,” he said. “It’s great when downtown is user-friendly for pedestrians. 

“After all, downtown is for the pedestrians.” 

The increase in business benefits both the city and Clinton County, Ormsby observed.

 ‘OPENS EYES’

And he also cited more personal benefits for local residents — benefits that are good for business, too.

“This opens people’s eyes to what’s already here.”

By making people feel there is more to do in downtown Plattsburgh, Ormsby reasoned, First Weekend creates awareness of downtown businesses that already exist. 

“They come down and say, ‘Oh, we didn’t know there was an independent shoe shop here,’” he said, referring to Urban Soles. 

“‘We didn’t know there was this or that.’”

And, Ormsby said, many of those enjoying the downtown area definitely wanted coffee.

“It was good for us at the Kat.”