Archived Story

Car show’s clout questioned

Published 8:09pm Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sheila Halsaver questions how much business Kar Club’s Wednesday night Bring It cruise-in car shows deliver to downtown Niles.

Mayor Michael McCauslin and Lisa Croteau, Niles Main Street director, respectfully disagree.

A discussion unfolded before Niles City Council Monday evening.

Halsaver’s Therapeutic Massage at 20 North Third St., known for its gardens established over 20 years, is sometimes open until 8 p.m. on Wednesdays.

Blocking the street poses a parking problem.

“Parking along the streets is public and for everyone’s benefit,” the mayor said. “That event and the number of people it brings to the downtown area is beneficial to the community.”

Halsaver said the event is geared toward men.

“They’re not shoppers,” she said. “Looking at it from that standpoint, I don’t see that it brings a lot of business to downtown merchants if people are avoiding their businesses because the roads are blocked. That’s what I hear. If I took 12 massage tables and lined them up and blocked off the road, I don’t think it would be appreciated too much. It just seems very rude and invasive to people in our area, and it’s not bringing business to me or to businesses by me.”

She suggested moving the shows to a park.

“It’s going to continue until August,” McCauslin said. “I don’t think we can rescind permission we granted. I’ve been down there several times, and there are a couple of thousand people milling around downtown. I can’t speak for other businesses, but it has a very positive effect for businesses that serve food.”

“Businesses that stay open typically double what they do during the day, and more are staying open each week,” Croteau said. “I respectfully disagree that women aren’t down there, and they tend to shop and most definitely eat. It’s been a very positive economic engine for downtown on Wednesday nights, and I see people coming back on other days.”

“As the car show gets bigger, we’re going to need Cedar Street and maybe the rest of Third Street,” a representative of the Kar Club said.  “We’re willing to work with her and give her whatever she needs to get in. We’re working with the daycare downtown to give them passes so they can get in and get children out.”

  • LH

    As a member of the downtown business community, I have seen a great benefit from the Wednesday night event. It has brought people that were not familiar with our business in that may not have ventured into the area, and it has brought us additional revenue, as well as to many other business owners I have talked with.
    Yes, the streets are blocked off, which brings people walking closer that would usually drive on by. There are plenty of open parking lots, including the one right next to Halsaver’s building that have been open & accessible.
    In walking the event, it is a balance of both men & women, many with children… it is a FAMILY event. From my experience I have seen many families walking, enjoying the music & food vendors, along with the cars.

    Is this person suggesting that men do not frequent her business, nor get massages? I find this totally unfounded as well! As a practitioner at the Healing Arts Center, which is only a couple doors down the street, we cater to a balance of both male & female clients. A couple of our massage therapists have even set up to do chair massages during the event & have drawn clients that may not have otherwise frequented our business if not for the Kar Club event.

    As an artisan (& a long time small business owner) that has participated in other downtown events, I can say that the crowds that are drawn to the Bring It Event rivals or exceeds many other events & small festivals held downtown. ANY event that is open to the community & draws activity to local businesses is a positive step towards developing a positive environment for those in this area.

    Why hold such an event in a park, where there are no existing supporting businesses to support the activity…food & drink, for example. Why not bring people into an area that has long struggled to bring in enough traffic to support local & established small businesses. Besides, the Wednesday night event is aprox. 3 hours long. Is this really long enough to disrupt any business, schedule or routine? If this causes one or two clients of one small business to have to drive around the block to park in a side lot, yet brings hundreds of people to other businesses in the area, whose selfish benefit is this calling into question? And does this particular business even have the clientele to support the 12 massage tables at one time, & who would want to even get a therapeutic treatment in the middle of the street anyway???

    This sounds like a short sighted, narrow point of view of one small business owner. The greater lesson in this is that there can be a benefit to all, this is not meant to be a competition, but a collective co-operation for the benefit of the many.

  • rukidding

    I would like to echo LH’s opinion. As an owner of multiple properties downtown I would like to personally thank all of the folks that bring life and vitality to our growing downtown district by spending their own time putting on these events. I would encourage Ms. Halsaver to walk down and through the car show, as well as other events that occur while the streets are blocked off. Take the time to speak directly to the merchants who have taken the time and effort to embrace the much increased foot traffic in front of their businesses. Ask them how these events affect them. While I will agree that different events bring different demographics, I would point out that diversity is a good thing. Please remember, there are buinesses downtown that serve more than just women. I’m hopeful that Ms. Halsaver will find some time to wander down to Main Street this Saturday and take in what promises to be a great event for women. I would encourage her and everyone else, men & women, to browse through the vendor booths and open stores to re-discover what our community and downtown merchants have to offer.

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