The new Elizabethton Downtown Business Association leader, Kathy Shoun, has proven she knows how to run a successful business. Now, she wants to use that success to make the downtown a more exciting place to shop as well as developing events that will bring more people and revenue to Elk Avenue.
The city and downtown merchants have succeeded in producing what many towns and cities would give anything for: a weekend car show, which draws hundreds to Elk Avenue. The Carter County Car Club has partnered with the city and the downtown businesses to make the Saturday car show one of the most popular events in the area.
Except for the Saturday evening car show, the downtown is underutilized and fairly quiet. Once the hub of customers accessing jam-packed shops, restaurants and offices, it from time to time longs for the bustle of days gone by. However, in recent years there has been a growing appreciation for the excellent and historic resources still standing downtown. There is a renewed understanding about the importance of downtown Elizabethton to the future of the city and area.
The new EDBA leader recognizes the importance of the downtown and the need to generate more foot traffic and show the public they are valued. She wants to give people a reason to come downtown. Her predecessor, John Bunn, walked the streets daily and visited with merchants and business owners, trying to involve them in building a better organization.
Downtown can never be replaced by a mall or discount center. It is the very heartbeat of the Elizabethton community. It provides a sense of community and place.
Most of the businesses in the downtown are independently owned. They support a local family, who support the local schools, parks and public works. They keeps profits in town.
Downtown is the center of our government. It’s where city hall and the courthouse are located. It represents a significant portion of the community’s tax base.
The Elizabethton downtown, though it may no longer hold the place as the community’s most dominant shopping center, still includes unique shopping and service opportunities. Attorneys, accountants and insurance offices, as well as financial institutions, are located downtown. It is a major tourist draw. On any given day, especially in the summer, tourists can be found in the downtown. They stop to see the historic Covered Bridge, browse the antique shops and eat at local restaurants.
What is disappointing is that so many downtown businesses fail to take advantage of the Saturday evening crowds that gather downtown for the car show. They lock their doors and leave when the car show begins.
It would be a good time for merchants to do something to entice these people to do a little shopping.
Shoun has high hopes for the downtown, but she knows it will take everyone working together to make the downtown a place that people look forward to visiting and shopping in.
She takes the leadership role with an open mind, ready and willing to listen, and not afraid to try new things. We would encourage downtown merchants to get on board and get involved. Downtown belongs to all of us. It’s a unique place.