Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

Downtown merchants consider staying open later

With the approaching summer tourist season, Jonesborough merchants are again bringing up a contentious topic for downtown businesses: hours of operation.
At a recent Merchant Meeting, that subject came up several times with mixed responses from those present, but no definite action was decided upon.
Many of the businesses in downtown Jonesborough have small staffs, or are exclusively operated by the owner. In the winter months, some businesses close by 3 p.m. because of the lack of visitors to downtown. But even in the summer months, prime tourist time, businesses and restaurants don’t seem to stay open in the evenings, potentially deterring visitors from spending more time in Jonesborough.
A branding study conducted last summer by the marketing firm Destination Development said one way Jonesborough can expand its tourism dollars is to have a thriving downtown in the evenings, which would require the businesses to remain open later, perhaps until 8 or 9 p.m. The firm’s founder, Roger Brooks, urged town merchants to keep their doors open later. The report was met with skepticism from merchants.
Now, some merchants are pushing each other to stay open later to help generate more sales for the small businesses downtown.
Steve Cook, organizer of Music on the Square, said the events will start up again on May 7, bringing about 1,000 people to downtown on Friday nights. Cook also owns the Jonesborough Art Glass Gallery on Main Street.
He said many people come early and wander the streets of Jonesborough, making it a perfect opportunity for merchants to make more in sales.
But in the past, Cook said, he has seen that shops have not stayed open to receive the crowds.
“If there’s any way you can start later, or stay open later, or somehow make yourselves available, it would be good,” Cook said. “If you can’t, try to stay open next week.”
Bone Ami owner Diane Rowenhorst, who has spearheaded the idea of forming a Merchants Association, said she sent out an e-mail to a group of merchants asking who was willing to stay open evenings on the weekends in the summer, but received little response.
Merchants at the meeting said perhaps it would be feasible to try one season of staying open later and to communicate with each other to set consistent days and times to remain open.
The merchants are also considering an advertising cooperative, pooling advertising funds together to be more effective in bringing customers to downtown Jonesborough. Right now, a group of merchants is reviewing options and has spoken with the Town, who they said has expressed willingness to allot some funds to the cooperative.
Merchants also outlined upcoming spring events in the Town.
Soonest is the Easter Eggstravaganza (combined with an Earth Day celebration) on March 27, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Storytelling park and around the log house. See Page 8B for more information on the event.
The 4th Annual Tartan Days Festival will be on April 9 and 10 in downtown Jonesborough. There wasn’t a festival last year due to lack of sponsors, but it will restart this year. On Friday night will be a Ceilidh/Contra Dance featuring Celtic band Sigean at the Visitors Center. On Saturday, the festival will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., a free event. For more information, call 753-4562.
The Chamber of Commerce breakfast at the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center will be April 14 at 7:15 a.m., and organizers are looking for volunteers to help serve and clean up. The Garden Gala will be held May 29.