We're live at the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association board meeting. We're inside the Carpenter room at CREATE.
Meeting is slated to start at 12:30. Board members are eating lunch right now from Catch Kids' fundraiser - tacos!
This is the first board meeting after Elvis Fest, which the group produces. Stay tuned to hear the reports.
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 11:47 a.m.
Introduces Jessica Brooke Reed (spelling) as a new Main Street staffer. MSU grad in marketing.
Jenkins and Young reps are here. Loden said they are auditors for Main Street.
Debbie Brangenberg, executive director of Main Street:
One of special things about downtown is people have dreams and start new business. Phyllis Robinson of Devilish Mary's and Virginia and Ashley Chambers of His Hers had a dream. They started their businesses downtown. Partnered to have a fundraiser for Tupelo farmers market. Had a block party and an Alice & Wonderland tea party.
Phyllis Robinson: This was our first time at fundraising. Learned all kinds of things. Will do it earlier next time. Doing a lot of listening. We thought the community really stepped up and helped. We do love the farmers market. It's in our community and it's become a real gathering place. We hope it will continue to grow.
Ashley Chambers: The kids were so adorable. We just worked as hard as we could to make it as memorable as possible. Thought we did well our first go around. We did a small etiquette lesson.
Robinson: We have a $2,000 check.
(Duke Loden jumped up out of his chair to collect the money. Ha! Making the presentation now.)
Elvis Fest recap from Jim Goodwin:
Get to hard numbers in a second. Huge thank you to the sponsors and the volunteers. We couldn't do the festival without you. Hope the sponsors felt they got a good bang for their buck.
Thank you to the blue team. Saw a ton of new faces. Really huge thank you to the volunteers. All those people take vacation days from their real job to volunteer at the festival is unbelievable.
Most important stakeholder is restaurants and hotels. That's why we do this - to put heads in beds and butts in booths. We also do this to sustain the downtown experience.
Blair Hughes of Park Heights: It was awesome. Have numbers to report from tickets sold on rooftop.
Goodwin: Looked at license plates throughout downtown. Lots of counties from around Mississippi.
There's a lot of way to evaluate success and we don't have all of them out yet. Ticket sales. Expenses (don't have those numbers yet). Revenue (race entry fees, carnival, lyric, ticket sales - don't have all of these yet).
We have some hard numbers on attendance but we won't have the full picture until we have all expenses and revenues in.
Overall, attendance was up 80 percent year over year. It was primarily driven by Friday. Was up 132 percent from a year ago. Paul Thorn throws a good party. We had an extra 1,000 people on Friday night.
Saturday was also a bigger night. We were up 50 percent on Saturday.
Our strategy of fewer, bigger, better acts and sticking to one genre worked. David Nail and Little Big Town rocked. They did a great job, graceful under pressure.
People will show up for about anything, esp. with good weather.
Going up 50 percent on our biggest day is a great accomplishment.
Our ticket prices worked. Very friendly. $10 on Friday. $20 on Saturday. $24 for both if you bought in advance.
We had great weather. We're still getting in the rest of the picture, but that's the story so far.
Brangenberg: All Jim was talking about was the outdoor event, but we had another event inside at the Lyric. Tickets sold out three weeks after they went on sale.
Tupelo has become the place to win. The tribute artists all want that notch on their belt.
Two of our contestants had one previous events in other areas but they still wanted to compete in Tupelo. Gentleman (David Lee) who won in Florida won here. Gentleman who won the other event (Tyler Hunter) came in second.
Rules state that if you've won a previous prelim event, you have to rep the event you won first. David Lee was our winner but he has to rep Florida. So, Tyler Hunter will be representing Tupelo.
Story from volunteer: Helped out a Tyler Hunter. He had a wardrobe malfunction and needed help pressing his jacket. Went to Reed's to get it pressed. He was worried because he didn't have money to get it pressed. Man at Reed's noticed makeup on his collar. Had him try on a black jacket. Then put two shirts in the bag. Gave them all to him. He said if I was his mom, he'd be crying. That's my most awesome blue team story ever.
Ashley Chambers of His Hers: Crew from Little Big Town came in and spent about 45 minutes in our man cave. Talked about cigars and lavender. Sold them a lightbulb. They were awesome.
Brangenberg: Thanks again to blue team. Change to grassy area for VIP tent was a great idea. Thanks, Russell. Greg, hats off, man. You did it! Greg is the heart and soul behind the entertainment in Fairpark. Thank you!
If you want to go to Memphis, it's Aug. 17. There are many stories to tell about the weekend. Blue team is going to get together in a few weeks to rehash and recap. Want to hear from the merchants about what they did. Love the records swirling outside of His Hers.
Loden: We hope our string of winners continues in Memphis.
Brangenberg: We've got four chances to win in Memphis (ETAs have Tupelo connections).
Virginia Chambers: This is our first year so we're trying to get into the swing of Tupelo's Elvis schedule. Do we get any spillover from Memphis in August?
Brangenberg: Yes, August 9 is our day. Will unveil the Elvis statue in Fairpark then. Marty Stuart will perform at Fairpark concert. Will get them over 10 days. Won't be a constant flow, but you'll see tour buses come in. They'll show up after 5 p.m. and on Sunday afternoons.
Chambers: What about merchants opening on Sunday? Downtown was dead on Sunday after GumTree. We're having a merchant meeting tomorrow to talk about things.
Camille Sloan: Birthplace is having an expansion. Trying to get people to stay longer than just a bus ride through town. Will have an event at birthplace next week to showcase what's going on.
Financial report from Paul Mize:
• Organization's balance sheet as of May 1 -
Total equity: $198,275.08
Total income for May: $35,274.84
Total expenses for May: $33,288.49
YTD income: $49,663.64
• Elvis Fest balance sheet as of May 1 - DOESN'T INCLUDE ELVIS FEST EVENT NUMBERS -
May income: $73,022.50
May expenses: - $180,556.53
YTD net income is -$59,813.10. This will change at the end of August when we get all numbers in.
Brangenberg: I fill things are good. I entered everything I had on the balance sheet, but I have a big stack of mail to go through.
Loden: Real common for the month before an event to be a negative. We hope it will be real profitable next month.
Brangenberg: Remember, we always budget for a neutral income on Elvis Fest. Only plug in $1 for beer sales.
Wine downtown was very successful event. Ended up making a little more than $2,000 on the event. Will use it to do destination market for the downtown area.
Farmer market fundraiser dinner - profits were $1,367 for Feast for the Farmers. Using it for the mural. They've started painting that. McCarty has been kind enough to loan us some scaffolding.
We've had an uptick in Downtown Dollars. Since Jan. 1, sold $3,300 in Downtown Dollars. Reimbursed the merchants with $3,100 in Downtown Dollars.
Michelle from accounting company:
Seemed like a good time to come down and give you a little overview about what we're doing.
This nonprofit organization does not have figureheads sitting on the board. This board is full of people who live, work and play sitting on the board. So when you see the financials, you have a good idea of what is going on downtown.
Exec board can have an audit done if you want.
Debbie and I work closely together. I'm on Broadway too so we stay pretty close to everything. When we discussed the audit years ago, we didn't think that it was a good way to spend your money. Y'all get the reports monthly and you see what's going on. We still don't feel it's a good way to spend your money. Put it into something else downtown, but that's your call.
Tax return has gotten more complicated. Lots more paperwork. Need to know number of volunteers, hours, etc. Designed to catch people who are abusing the system.
Debbie does an excellent job figuring out the new software - QuickBooks. It's very flexible. Way you look at the financials is very flexible. Way Debbie has categorized things is flexible. Able to look at which events make money and which don't.
Things that Debbie has done with upfront Elvis contracts has really helped us.
Loden: We appreciate you and Marshall. We wanted to let the board know that we do have independent eyes looking at our financials.
Marshall: This is probably one of the most detailed financial statements we see for a nonprofit. And the fact that you meet monthly and can ask questions about every line - that's amazing. I want to stress that you look at it month to month. Pay attention to those line items and not just when there is a loss.
You are a local board.
Loden: We didn't budget for an audit but we want to bring it before you.
Marshall and Michelle: Audit would cost $3,000 to $5,000 - easy. We don't do audits because it would compromise our independence. An audit is expensive.
Camille Sloan: We looked at it five years ago when we had staff changes. Looked at how books were done and the expenses of an audit and decided not to it.
Marshall: If you do an an audit, it really needs to be done annually.
Michelle: Another option is a review. It's not as invasive as a audit, but it still takes up a lot of staff time and is expensive.
I ask Debbie a lot of questions at the end of the year when I'm doing tax returns. It's not like we just take what she gives us and put it on a form. We check with the bank, we reconcile numbers. It's not an audit, it's not a review, but it's how we do things.
Loden: I was on the board when we were talking about an audit before. Decided that we didn't want to spend the money on an audit when we could put it back into downtown.
Director's report from Debbie Brangenberg:
• State Main Street awards:
I can't tell you what and I can't tell you how many, but I can tell you that Tupelo has won some awards. Will be traveling to Jackson on June 21 for the awards.
• Board retreat
Board retreat is in July. Have a big year coming up. Need everyone there.
• Entertainment district review
Have consultants in town for the entertainment district review. Several board members aren't here today because they are meeting with Rob Hunden (spelling?) and his associates.
• Main St. enhancement project:
We've worked things out with FEMA. Got in touch with railroad. Working on issues with them. Hope to have that worked out in the next week or two. Then we'll start talking with stakeholders to make sure everyone is staying up to date on what's going on.
Meeting adjourned at 12:47 p.m. Any questions?