Merchants give downtown Niles marketing effort rave reviews

Published 7:47 am Thursday, June 19, 2003

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Several downtown merchants said their cash registers were ringing Saturday, thanks to the huge turnout at the downtown Niles Great Garage Barrage.
And, although some had a better business day than others, many agree on one thing -- they are excited to see the effort being made to bring people back to downtown Niles.
The Garage Barrage was the first of many events organized by the Main Street Initiative Promotions Committee to bring people to downtown Niles this summer and fall.
Mardy Grzegorek, manager and district book coordinator at Majerek's Hallmark Readers World at 312 E. Main St., in downtown Niles, bubbled when she talked about sales at her business, thanks to Saturday's sidewalk event.
She is happy to see the push is on to revitalize the downtown area.
Dave Bulemba, owner of Golden Nugget Restaurant and Saloon on 202 E. Main St., in Niles, also said the sidewalk event helped him out on a day he wasn't expecting much business because of nice weather.
He said the Garage Barrage brought in an extra 20 to 30 people to his restaurant.
Bulemba said he hasn't seen that many people in downtown Niles for a long time.
Asked what Niles' downtown revitalization project will mean for business owners in the downtown area, Bulemba said it will take time before things change.
Sarah Roncary-Christenson is part of the ownership at Thayer's Jewelry on 226 E. Main St., in Niles. She worked in the store last Saturday.
She said the event didn't increase the jewelry store's sales much, mostly because they were unable to take jewelry out on the street due to security.
That way they were not as exposed to the crowds as other merchants who had stalls on the sidewalks, she said.
Roncary-Christenson moved from Traverse City to the Michiana area in 2001.
She compares the revitalization process currently under way in downtown Niles to what was done in that city 20 years ago.
High-end boutique stores and restaurants were put in and buildings were restored, she said.