BIA looking to drum up interest in street market

Duane Hicks

FORT FRANCES—In an effort to draw more people to Scott Street, and make it the place to be this summer, the local BIA will be holding a monthly outdoor market from June through September.
Called “Market Thursdays,” the BIA will encourage vendors and entertainers to come downtown once a month to create a sort of farmers’ market.
“It will include produce and local food like they have at most farmers’ markets, but also artisans and crafters, as well,” explained BIA chair Connie Cuthbertson.
“There will be tables to rent, that sort of thing. [And] all of the money will go back into promoting the event,” she noted.
“Right now we’ve got it set up so that it’s going to be once a month for four months of the summer,” Cuthbertson added. “We really would love it to be weekly, but we’re trying not to get too excited about it right now.
“We don’t want to scare people away,” she stressed. “We want to grow with it.
“If we have the interest there after the first week or two, we’ll definitely look at doing that.”
Cuthbertson said one of the keys will be to have a variety of vendors, as well as buskers (street performers).
“So many people are talented in the area—they play guitar, they juggle, whatever. It doesn’t matter,” she remarked.
“It will just be kind of a fun atmosphere.”
The market likely would run from 10 am.-4 p.m. The Fort Frances Museum has offered use of its courtyard for “Market Thursday.”
“Hopefully, we’re going to have so many vendors that we’ll have to spill out further down the street, in front of the Rainy Lake Hotel,” Cuthbertson enthused.
“That would be nice to spruce up that area of the street with activity.”
Cuthbertson clarified the outdoor market isn’t meant to compete with the Clover Valley Farmers’ Market here each Saturday, but rather enhance it by allowing some of those same vendors another opportunity to show their wares and to bring more people into the community.
Having it on a Thursday also may catch those who spend their summer weekends up the lake.
Anyone interested in being part of “Market Thursdays” can contact BIA promotions committee members Richard Boileau at McTaggarts (274-5371), Doug Anderson at Betty’s (274-9565), or Ted DeBenetti at A Buck or Two (274-9034).
Cuthbertson said all BIA members are encouraged to get involved with the promotions committee, and that it’s not restricted to board members.
“Everybody’s got really great ideas, and the more we have thrown into the pot, the more we have to choose from,” she reasoned.
The first “Market Thursday” in June ideally will coincide with the unveiling of another new BIA venture—flower planters in front of Scott Street businesses.
“We went around to all the different businesses and asked them to purchase a planter,” Cuthbertson explained.
“The BIA would fill the planter with dirt, and then they would work, hopefully, with the [local] Horticultural Society.
“There’s a program that we’re trying to hook up with them called ‘Adopt-A-Business,’ where people in the ‘growing know’ would actually come and help a certain business in designing their planter for the summer season,” she added.
“Some planters are going to be facing north, some south,” she noted. “You really have to know which plants work best in a pot together, too.
“Those are all considerations that not everybody has expertise in,” conceded Cuthbertson, noting there are some “amazingly talented” horticulturalists in Fort Frances.
If all goes to plan, the planters will be installed and the flowers in full bloom by late June.
Meanwhile, “Market Thursdays” also are an example of a whole series of events the BIA has plotted out for this year.
Events so far have included “Shoot Score in the Downtown Core” in January, a Valentine’s Day/PJ Day promotion in February, Wedding Week in March, and the Easter “Egg Hunt” event this past Saturday.
Future events could include a Mother’s Day promotion, Father’s Day and grad/prom events in June, a “Fun in the Sun”-type event in late June, a “Something Fishy Downtown” promotion as part of Bass Week (July 18-22), “Back to School” and “Stock Cars on Main” in August, and “Opening Hunting Weekend” for ladies in October.
Several more promotions would kick off the start off the holiday shopping season and carrying through to just before Christmas.
Cuthbertson said the purpose of the events calendar is to help individual BIA businesses better budget their advertising dollars and give them marketing ideas.
“We’re trying to make it as varied and interesting as possible for us, as well,” she reasoned.
“The more creative it is for us, the more fun we’ll have putting it together for our customers.”
Cuthbertson said she has a good feeling about the direction the BIA is heading in.
“In the past five years, I’ve heard a lot of disgruntled store owners because it’s hard to stay positive about a business if you see your sales going down or you’re faced with a struggle working with your staff—it’s really tough on the one person,” she remarked.
“I see a lot of them getting excited about their business again.
“I think that’s really a key thing because now they want to get it spruced up and they want to do things,” she enthused.
(Fort Frances Times)