Downtown Lincoln business owners bring unity and small town friendly feel to the heart of the city

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[March 13, 2020] 

Earlier this week a group of business owners from the Downtown Lincoln area got together for a meeting to talk about efforts to increase consumer traffic to the heart of the city. The group on hand represented eight of the 23 downtown businesses that are participating in what they have dubbed Lincoln Downtown Express.

The meeting was held at Sorrento’s Pizzeria and was led by Lisa Drew, Owner of Sorrento’s. Also present were Matt Arnold of Grieme-Arnold Insurance; Tony Curcuru with Sorrento’s and Tony’s Cannoli’s; John Hoblit, Hoblit Law Office; Ernesto Leon of Rio Grande Restaurant; Eileen Mullins, Sir Rena Tea; Colleen Roate, Spirited Republic; Theresa Schieffer of Copper Penny and Kathie Williams, Small Town Creations.

This is the same group of people who put together the Holiday Express in Lincoln in December. That event was such a success and served to bring the local business owners together in a very positive way. When the holiday season was over, they decided that they did not want to lose that momentum and spirit of unity in the downtown area.

They have been meeting regularly since then, with all who are able sitting together and just throwing out ideas about how to increase consumer traffic to all the businesses in the heart of the city.

Drew noted before the meeting began that the number of participants varies. They met at 9 a.m. because most of the downtown businesses open at 10 a.m. This allowed an hour to get together and talk about various topics.

Drew said that the meetings are energizing and that they often leave at the end of the hour excited about the work they are doing, and excited about being a part of the heart of the city.

This week the group was excited about their latest promotion, Lincoln’s Lucky Leprechauns search. There are two leprechauns hidden daily in two different participating businesses. Shoppers are encouraged to find the leprechauns then enter for a drawing of a “pot of gold” courtesy of the businesses. The pot of gold is growing with additions being made by the businesses that include gift cards or merchandise from each of the stores.

They shared stories about searchers who have come into their stores, and how from time to time they gave little hints to shoppers of where the leprechauns might be.

Kathy Williams said that the leprechaun search was different from the Holiday Express because the shoppers at Christmas time needed to make a purchase to be entered into the drawing for the gift basket. With the leprechauns no purchase is required. She said that the purpose was more to get people in the various businesses and get them acquainted with what is available downtown. Of course, when the winner is drawn for the pot of gold, that lucky person will have some shopping opportunities in the downtown area as well as opportunities to enjoy the local eateries and coffee and tea shops.

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For those searching for the leprechauns, you still have time! The leprechauns will be hidden in various locations through Sunday. The drawing for the winner will be held on March 17th – St. Patrick’s Day.

In addition to the leprechauns, the downtown group launched ‘I love (heart) Downtown Lincoln’ tee-shirt campaign in February and that is still ongoing. The group ordered tee-shirts and shop owners and staff wear those shirts in their places of business on Friday’s. In addition the shirts are being sold at Small Town Creations and Sir Renna Tea for all those who share the sentiment.

There are more promotions coming around the corner from the downtown group. This week they began outlining a plan for April and Easter and hope to get details nailed down next week.

They are also working on a big event to be held on July 11th. Nashville Night will feature many of the downtown eateries and bars and will include live bands at each establishment. Drew said that the hope is to promote that event outside the area and perhaps bring more out of town visitors into Lincoln on that evening.

As the group discussed all the things they are working on, Drew also offered a review of the goals of the group and invited everyone to pitch in and add to the list. The primary goal of the group is to work together, to create a fun environment for local shoppers, the encourage out of town shoppers and visitors, to promote the downtown businesses as a cohesive group, to feature individual businesses and their owners and create a “small town realness and feel” and to create events that can include all the participating businesses.

It was noted that to have this kind of unity is something that many shoppers enjoy.

The group shares information with shoppers not just about their shop or café’ but also about all the other great locations in the heart of the city that are worth the time to visit.

All in all, they feel they are working together in a way that the downtown has not seen in quite some time. They are seeing the results of this unity and are very pleased with what they are accomplishing.

In essence, this group is bringing heart to the heart of the city. The small town feel is just that, a feeling of community and a feeling of warmth, friendliness, and a desire to please shoppers and satisfy the needs of those shoppers.

Kudo’s to this group for their tremendous effort to come together and be a ‘family’ of sorts in the heart of Lincoln.

[Nila Smith]

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