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VOL. 118 | NO. 178 | Monday, October 4, 2004

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Merchant Guide Adds to Downtown Advertising

Efforts Increase to Market Downtown

New merchant guide highlights Downtown businesses


The Daily News

The Center City Commission reported recently in a Downtown Market Study that some 25,000 people live Downtown Memphis and another 68,000 work in the area.

But tourists and many of the Memphians who spend a significant amount of time Downtown often arent aware of all the businesses and other offerings in the area. They might know where certain restaurants are located, but small retailers such as jewelers and florists and services such as a dentists office arent necessarily common knowledge.

Thats something Tim Goodroe hopes to change.

Accessible information. Goodroe has launched The Downtown District Merchant Guide of Memphis, a quarterly publication containing business ads and information on the Downtown market. The first edition, which is free and available in several Downtown businesses and vendor boxes, was released in mid-August.

Its about helping the pedestrian traffic have something thats immediately available, immediately accessible to them as a reference to whats Downtown, Goodroe said.

As a Memphis city police officer who serves Downtown, Goodroe knows a good deal about the types of information commonly requested by Downtown visitors.

I would get my coffee at Empire Coffee Co. on Main Street, and while standing outside drinking my coffee, Id have people walk up to me who were obviously tourists, he said. Theyd ask me where to get good bacon and eggs, and I would tell them. I kept getting the same questions over and over.

I thought that, obviously, something is missing here. It just became clear to me that what Downtown needed was something readily accessible.

Downtown roadmap. The guide focuses on three groups of Downtown patrons: residents, visitors and tourists. It contains more than ads it offers a dining guide, map, trolley information, ATM locations, businesses that offer Internet access and the location of museums.

Its a good roadmap to things you need Downtown, said Richard Alley, owner of Tobacco Bowl at 152 Madison Ave., one of the advertisers on a two-page spread focusing on Madison businesses. Tourists will pick it up, business travelers will pick it up, residents will pick it up and people who are working Downtown will pick it up. It covers everybody, and its solely Downtown.

Lack of awareness. Kelli Dumas, a Downtown dentist who advertises in the guide, said its amazing how little Downtown residents and workers know about some of the services available to them.

I happen to go to the Jewelry Market, and a lot of patients that I talk to dont know there is a jewelry store Downtown, she said.

There are actually a handful of Downtown jewelry stores, and that lack of awareness is one of the primary problems many Downtown businesses face.

Everybody knows there are restaurants. Everybody knows there are bars, the Grizzlies and the Redbirds, and thats all great, Alley said. But if we can get people to come down here and spend a Saturday shopping, that would be fantastic.

Advertising efforts. Several steps have been taken by various groups to make that happen. The South Main Association has placed brochures in area hotels advertising the South Main Arts Districts many art galleries, shops and points of interest.

And the Center City Commission has several initiatives under way, including an advertising campaign that should kick off in coming months. The agencys Blue Suede Brigade also distributes a booklet to visitors that includes a map listing the many points of interest in Downtown.

Existing resource. Business owners expressed the need for some sort of Downtown business guide. And though some might not know it, one does exist.

The Downtown Directory published by Downtown Productions Inc., also the publisher of Memphis Downtowner magazine serves as a telephone directory for Downtown businesses.

When publisher Jodie Vance started the company 15 years ago, she wanted to get the word out about companies many Memphians didnt know existed.

At that time, and they still do, businesses closed before people even realized they were here, she said. I wanted to put the residents and workers of Downtown in touch with what businesses and services we have.

While it might seem that Goodroes publication is a competitor for the Downtown Directory, he stressed the importance of both guides within the Downtown market.

We dont want to do a directory over again, Goodroe said. Its done too well. The whole point of this magazine is to allow small businesses to advertise and not break the bank doing so.

Attracting all Memphians. About 3,000 guides have been mailed to Downtown residents. The publication also is available in Kroger stores throughout East Memphis, an effort aimed at bringing more people Downtown from the suburbs.

So is it working?

I have done a lot of different advertising venues in the past two years, and I have had the fastest turnaround with two individual publications. This was one of them, Dumas said. I didnt even know it was out, and I had a patient probably within three days and she said she saw it in the Downtown Merchant Guide.

The next issue comes out Dec. 1. Goodroe hopes to grow the publication by adding businesses and sections, including focuses on specific neighborhoods, such as Harbor Town, South Main and the Pinch District, he said.


PROPERTY SALES 124 481 17,865
MORTGAGES 127 530 20,565
BUILDING PERMITS 195 891 36,836
BANKRUPTCIES 52 262 11,426