Mobile vending should be considered as part of revitalization efforts

Please consider printing this letter in the Sylvan Lake News:

Dear Editor,

Please consider printing this letter in the Sylvan Lake News:

Mayor McIntyre and council members,

Regrettably I am unable to attend the March 23 open house regarding the Mobile Vending Pilot Project; however, I am happy to take this opportunity to share my thoughts.

My husband and I are property owners offering commercial rental spaces at 5002A, 5002B, and 5004 – 50 St. as well as 5006 and 5008 – 50 Ave. in Sylvan Lake. Of the five-thousand square feet of space, presently 50 per cent is leased with the remaining 50 per cent vacant.

Like many downtown communities, Sylvan Lake’s downtown and waterfront areas are experiencing increasing competition from online sales, urban sprawl and big-box stores.   Consumers’ spending habits are shifting and there is no reason to believe this trend should slow.

Increasingly, consumers are expecting more of a “shopping experience” in downtown areas. It has become a reality that retail businesses and downtowns need to evolve to attract and retain customers.

Over the past several years, my husband and I have travelled through a great number of villages and towns throughout Canada and the USA. We travel in the shoulder season to avoid the crowds. Whenever we have encountered a vibrant downtown, we have made a point of making observations and questioning storefront owners, restauranteurs, locals, cab drivers and occasionally a local Chamber of Commerce representative as well as municipal employees about the efforts and initiatives that they felt were contributing to successful revitalization efforts.

Generally, we discovered the following:

● Most towns had experienced a downturn whether they were tourist destinations are not.

● The downtowns that appear to be experiencing success in their revitalization efforts have also managed to unite the stakeholders (business, property owners, Chamber of Commerce and the Municipal Government) and are using a collaborative approach to revitalization.

● Business and property owners often have formed downtown organizations to encourage collaborative efforts and partnering.

● GAP assessments and consumer surveys were often cited as useful tools to create local, “homegrown” solutions.

● The stakeholders seemed to understand that a “positive atmosphere”, a “good vibe”, “atmosphere”, “activity”, “friendliness” and “great service” were imperative attributes, and quite possibly more important than being able to offer a great variety of retail and service offerings. This seemed particularly true in their efforts to attract and retain the local resident as a consumer.

● Healthy competition was recognized as a plus. Examples: restaurants, pubs and coffee shops locating within close proximity of each other to create a hub; or galleries and studios together to create an arts district.

● Mobile vending, weekly street fairs, sidewalk sales, art walks, and busking were prominently utilized as attractants, to create interest and activity, and increase pedestrian traffic.

● Mobile vending was viewed as the quickest way to increase the variety of offerings in a given area.

● Mobile vending was often used within close proximity of neighbouring eateries to create a hub of eating and dining options.

● Although the hub atmosphere and diversity of offerings initially attracted us to the areas, it was the quality of food, the offerings of a menu and table service which ultimately had us eating in the restaurants significantly more often than patronizing the mobile vendor.

● The quality of the food and service in these hub areas was often of very good to excellent caliber and was frequently priced accordingly. (Perhaps a little healthy competition encourages everyone to step up their efforts).

● And, off-season and shoulder-season festivals are sometimes utilized to retain the local residents’ customer loyalty and to encourage the residents “ownership” of their downtowns.

Additionally, mobile vending often provides employment for young people. It can provide business experience for new entrepreneurs. It occasionally serves as an opportunity to incubate a business idea or test new products in the marketplace.

Based on the information I have been able to gather, combined with what we were able to witness, we believe that mobile vending should be considered as part of our revitalization efforts.

We believe that bringing our resident consumers back to our downtown and waterfront areas helps businesses thrive in the busy season and do more than just survive the off season. Visitors and tourists will shop and eat where the locals shop and eat. Increased revenues mean more business success stories and attraction of new businesses to the area creating greater interest in vacant spaces.

Colette and Larry Barker,

Sylvan Lake

 

Just Posted

Sylvan Lake Pirates force Whitecourt Wild to walk the plank

The Pirates have played their way to back-to-back wins to sit seventh in regular season standings.

Sylvan Lake students prepare for opening night of ‘Almost, Maine”

Students and staff from H.J. Cody have been hard at work since September to bring Almost to life

WATCH: Sylvan Lake’s Daddy/Daughter Dance

The event was put on by SPARC Parent’s Association on Nov. 17

West Central Midget Tigers pounce on Airdrie

The Tigers’ regular season record is 10-1-2 after two wins this weekend

Big Bear Energy makes a big donation to Sylvan Lake Christmas Bureau

Big Bear Energy recently gave a donation to help families in need this holiday season

VIDEO: Shoppers like self-checkout lanes at the grocery store, survey suggests

Grocery Experience National Survey Report suggests most grocery shoppers spend 32 minutes per visit

Former NHL player and coach Dan Maloney dies at 68

Maloney coached the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets

Ex-MSU president charged with lying to police about Nassar

Lou Anna Simon was charged Tuesday with lying to police during an investigation

Police looking into two more incidents at private Toronto all-boys’ school

Police and the school have said two of the prior incidents involved an alleged sexual assault

25% of Canadians still won’t say they use pot, survey says

Statistics Canada poll says Canadians on average were 18.9 years old when they first tried pot.

The latest advent calendar trend: Holiday cannabis

A Canadian company is giving people from coast to coast a new way to celebrate the Christmas countdown.

Ponoka’s Caleb Shimwell arrested after pursuit

Police allege that Shimwell rammed a police cruiser

731,000 Canadians going into debt to buy prescription drugs: UBC

Millennials and those without private coverage were more likely to borrow money

Most Read