We're live at the April board meeting of the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association.
It's 11:45 a.m. and we're at the Carpenter room inside CREATE. Board members are eating lunch and filling out info sheets right now. The meeting will start soon.
Disclaimer: I'm typing as people are talking. There may be typos. People also have a tendency to talk at the same time, so I can't always hear everything.
And, I'm not typing every word. Think of this more as the highlights of the meeting.
Something doesn't make sense? Corrections? Have questions? Ask.
President Duke Loden calls the meeting to order at 11:52 a.m.
Financials from Paul Mize:
Main Street balance sheet as of March 31, 2012:
Elvis Fest financials as of March:
Proposed budget for Elvis Fest 2012:
Net income: -$80,204
Past president Jim Goodwin: Zero dollars budgeted for Fairpark sales. That's not what we expect the festival to yield. It's consistent with what we've approved earlier in the year. Half of that variance is doubling our entertainment expense from $40K to $80K. The other $40K is walk-up ticket sales at Fairpark. Last year that was $60K. This also doesn't include beer sales, which were $13K or $15K last year. If we have the same attendance as last year, we'll lose about $40K. Our goal is with the higher level talent, we'll attract bigger crowds and do better.
Main Street exec director Debbie Brangenberg: The only thing we've changed on the expense side is entertainment. Everything else is the same from last year.
Goodwin: The expenses also don't include beer. We agreed to stick our neck out. If we have comparable weather and the same crowds, we're going to be in the hole about $40K. If we have rain, we're going to be in a big hole.
Board member comment: We've also shortened our afternoon hours in Fairpark. Will open gates at 6 Friday and 6 Saturday.
Board suggestion: Can we push that back to 5 p.m.?
Another comment: That means the volunteers are going to have to be there an hour early and they'll just be looking at themselves.
Brangenberg: Southern Living contacted me and they want to list Elvis Fest in monthly calendar. Another periodical wanted to list it too. We're getting more attention.
Goodwin: Last year ticket price was $17 at the gate. Family of four was $68 to get in. A lot of people left because they said it was too rich. Now, we have all the acts in the same genre. Tickets are now $10 for Friday or $20 for Saturday or $25 for both nights. That's a recession-friendly ticket price. I really feel like we are going to get good, good ticket sales. We've painted the worst-case scenario for you, but we've upped our talent in the acts and we think we can do it.
Loden: We are taking a risk. We did that with Main Street budget. We're $13,000 in the hole and we're hoping that the Elvis Fest will bring in money so we can transfer money over to fill the hole here. We're also counting on Elvis Fest to make the money.
Jon Milstead comment: At the end of the festival, if we are in the hole, where does that money come from?
Loden: We've built up a reserve and we'll use that.
Goodwin: And we'll do a hasty retreat next year if that happens.
Johnny Robbins comment: I think y'all are going in the right direction and doing what needs to be done with the entertainment.
Loden: Proposed budget - it's big money. That budget is bigger than the Main Street budget.
Board comment: It takes money to make money.
Board approves to the new budget for Elvis Fest.
Cash mob update from Brangenberg:
Had first cash mob on March 25 in conjunction with spring open house.
When we started out we had 15 people. But we gave out stickers to 29 people who participated.
Barbara (owner of Main Attraction) was mobbed. Said with the open house and the mob she had a $2,400 day.
We'll continue to do this until all of the downtown merchants are mobbed. The mob was mentioned at the downtown cash mob.
(Debbie is thanking board members who participated and mobbed.)
The mob will be on random days and at different times. We were the first in Mississippi to do it and we're excited.
Membership report from Allie West:
139 members for the year. We're right on track with last year.
11 new members in 2012, including:
National Town meeting updates from people who attended:
The meeting was last week in Baltimore.
Blair Hughes, owner of Park Heights:
Debbie was one of about six people recognized for her longevity in serving.
I attended retail promotions workshops. One was 50 ideas for retailers.
One was a nude calendar. Someone got their city council and mayor and they were standing in a lake with a canoe.
Do you behave as a small biz or an entrepreneur? Open to innovations? Change? Entrepreneur generates greater profits.
They talked about creating a website of available properties, crowd-sourcing, virtual tours, working together (biz help artists and other way around), branding. Branding, branding, branding.
Would like to talk about other ideas at the retail meeting.
Jon Milstead, VP of planning for CDF:
Always good to get away and see what other communities are doing. Nice to see bigger communities doing what we're doing and that they are successful with it. Debbie and staff have done a great job with it.
We heard a lot about branding. About selling your place and selling your brand.
Went on a tour of Bethesda and Silver Springs - urbanized suburban area between Baltimore and DC. Highly populated area with artists. Counties saw how important it was to invest in these area.
Good to see that because it reminded me that we have do do more to leverage private investment in Tupelo. They used a lot of outdoor spaces.
Allie West, membership staff at Main Street:
As board members, you are super volunteers. We need you to be our faces. Give directions to people who ask. Greet volunteers and guests.
People volunteer for people. If board members aren't volunteering, no one will.
We need to publicly thank our volunteers. We need to show our volunteers doing stuff. Need to take more pictures. Start a facebook page for volunteers.
Ideas about why you volunteer? Let me know.
Craig Helmuth, staffer at Main Street:
We were the largest contingent from Mississippi at the convention. Helped because we were able to cover 100 percent of the sessions.
One session gave example of a "chair bombing" that took the chairs out of a coffee shop and moved them out to the sidewalk. Helped show coffee shop owner that sidewalk space is just as important as inside.
Put up wayfinding signs - Farmers market (7 mins that way); City Hall (5 mins that way). Citizen put them up and city took then down. After lot of phone calls, the city put them back up.
Debbie Brangenberg, exec director of Main Street:
Good experience in downtown Tupelo over the weekend. Lots of live music.
Local investing - it takes $50 from everyone to invest in a local business to keep things thriving.
USA Today on morning we left featured a story about how people are moving back to the city center from the suburbs.
Consultant I talked to between sessions came up with fab idea for merchants that I can't wait to share.
Wine Downtown from Blair Hughes:
April 26 starting at 5 p.m.
Will have 3 bands.
$25 in advance. $30 at the door if it isn't sold out.
Have 300 tickets for sale. It's 50 more from last year.
We're expanding the wines and the quality of wines from last year. Have Lebanese wine and a sake.
Joshua Simpson from Southern Twist will provide food for half the stops. We'll do food for the rest.
Tickets now on sale at all of the retailers.
Farmers market update from Allie West:
Farmers market will open May 19.
Want to make major improvements this year. Coat of paint, flowers and a mural. We're doing a "Feast for the Farmers" on May 4. Includes food, 2 drinks and entertainment. It's $35/person or 2 for $60.
We're selling 100 tickets. It's a fundraiser for the market.
Devilish Mary's also is having a farmers market fundraiser. (I didn't hear the day but they said it will be Blue Suede Cruise) Will be at corner of Green and Magazine. Live music, artists, raffle, etc. Sunday, there's a mother/daughter tea at Devilish Mary's. Partnering with His Hers.
Main Street project update from Debbie Brangenberg:
Had conference call with FEMA last Friday. We'll have another one. Still working on the bridge.
Goodwin: Is anything going to happen in this calendar year?
Milstead: It's possible. We're dealing with someone who is highly variable. We thought we would have a 90-day turnaround with FEMA and now it's been almost a year.
Goodwin: Is there anyway we can use a portion of the money to do something? Stripes? Signs? Something?
Milstead: We've asked MDOT about that and they said they want us to do it as one big project.
Goodwin: I'm just worried about going backward. We should do something. Can we do the striping downtown? Something that we can do that makes it harder to go backward.
Milstead: We wrote a letter to MDOT over six months ago asking if we could break the project into two pieces - downtown and the rest of it. They responded that we could not do it because they thought we might only do half of the project. Time element of what we are up against is difficult. We do have folks involved who are working with FEMA. We have another conference call next Friday.
Goodwin: How is FEMA involved?
Milstead: If you mess with the bridges, you have to deal with FEMA. That's why we're stuck dealing with them. If we aren't able to widen the bridges, a lot of the project won't happen. And Major Thoroughfare project will get impacted because they can't get widened to five lanes. We think FEMA will do it but it's just convincing them. FEMA required city to adopt new maps in 2009. Flood maps were wrong and now they want the city to pay. We're pushing for it.
Loden: Good point. I think if we could get something happening, it would help.
Fundraiser for diabetes Friday from 11 to 1 p.m. - mimosas and champagne. It's a fashion show at Park Heights. $35/ticket. Buy tickets at any of women's stores downtown or at Park Heights. Or you can RSVP at restaurant and then pay at the door.
Meeting adjourned at 12:50 p.m. Questions?