The Marketing of Carlisle : Part I

The Marketing of Carlisle : Part I

by Charlie Andrews

Prologue

A town is a living thing that has an identity, spirit and personality that makes the community unique and alive. Towns are old enough to have seen generations grow, walk their streets, live their lives and pass on. The town itself continues on. This is what gives a town special meaning in our lives. Changes occur, of course, but the essence of the town remains the same. The essence of Carlisle is its downtown, the face and heart of our community. Downtown Carlisle is beautiful, historic, and has a core of unique shops, galleries, antique stores, an art center, a performing arts center, lodging and restaurants. Carlisle overall is an economically diverse town with three colleges, that is growing culturally, intellectually and socially. It has tremendous (yet unrealized) potential.

In the 27 years I have made my living here in the downtown, I have worked alongside fellow merchants, other businesspeople and public officials for the betterment of Carlisle and its downtown.

Today, however, those efforts are no longer moving Carlisle forward. We are slipping into decline. If this decline is allowed to continue, more downtown storefronts will become offices, converted into residences, or increasingly occupied by less-than-credible merchants. I know that this sounds over the top, but I would suggest that it isn’t, and the process has already begun.

We have reached the point of diminishing returns with our current marketing programs as they are currently designed and funded. Complacency has set in as infrastructure ages and economic factors shift. In the mean time, new economic dynamics begin to present opportunities, brought upon by the recent revitalization of our existing malls.

Why is the downtown so important? It is a vital economic factor to Carlisle and the surrounding area that it serves. It is our county seat, an important crossroads and our most significant image of our community to the world. Can we survive without it? Yes, but only as the suburbs of the greater Harrisburg/West Shore area.

To counter this decline, Carlisle must present itself to the world as the unique, beautiful, historic and interesting town that it is. It must do this creatively, energetically, and head on. Carlisle ranks with the Georgetowns and New Hopes of the world, and it needs to show it. This would be the marketing of Carlisle.

Go to Part II

Image Credit: Wonderlane

The Marketing of Carlisle : Part II

by Charlie Andrews

Some History

In the 1970’s the only efforts to market Carlisle were by the merchants themselves. For many years they met once a month for a breakfast meeting at the old Bellaire House Restaurant, first as the Central Carlisle Business Association then as the Downtown Business Association. Essentially, the marketing efforts were of group advertising in the local newspapers and radio, holiday specials, and a one big annual event, “Sidewalk Sales” in July. The effect of two malls on the edges of Carlisle had already wrought dramatic change in the downtown (and in downtowns across America). Stores like Montgomery Wards, Penney’s, The Bon-Ton, Wengers, etc., moved to the malls. The downtown still had a lot to offer in its owner-operated stores and restaurants within a beautiful and historic downtown setting.

It was obvious, however, that marketing efforts needed to be increased to attract new businesses and people. We needed a person who was paid to work on these efforts constantly and consistently, rather than relying on volunteer merchants who already had a lot to do just running their businesses.

In 1980, the Carlisle Chamber of Commerce, under the leadership of then president Len Doran, proposed the formation of an organization and the hiring of an individual whose job would be to coordinate existing marketing efforts and develop new ones. They would create new opportunities to celebrate Carlisle and bring outside people to the downtown. There would be a board of directors with regular meetings, and various committees would be developed for events, beautification of the downtown, economic development, membership, etc. Initially, the Chamber of Commerce and the Borough each contributed money toward a matching grant from the state’s Department of Community Affairs (today called the Department of Community and Economic Development). The grant was made for each of three years, and after that the state grant ended. Local businesses and industries were also solicited and donated over $25,000. The idea was that after the grant ended, Carlisle would see the benefits of the program and continue to support it.

In Carlisle’s case, we did, but a number of communities across Pennsylvania didn’t. Many essentially lost their downtowns as far as economic effectiveness or meaning to their communities. Carlisle’s program, started in 1981, was initially called the Carlisle Economic Development Center. Today it is called the Downtown Carlisle Association (DCA).

Since its formation, the DCA has continued to develop group advertising ideas, new events (Octubafest, Street Hoops, Corvette Parade, etc.), financial assistance programs for facades and signage, and new marketing tools in the form of a Carlisle brochure and video, etc. Originally the goal was to draw people from the surrounding local areas to Carlisle. As the years have gone on though, it has became apparent that for Carlisle to really thrive and prosper, we need to draw people to Carlisle from out of the area, i.e. Baltimore, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, northern Virginia, etc. At the same time, we also need to attract competent merchants to the downtown.

Other, positive developments in the downtown have been the Carlisle Theater, the downtown hotel, and the parking garage as well as the Carlisle Arts Learning Center and the expansion of the Cumberland County Historical Society. Additionally, we are seeing the redevelopment of the old Woolworth’s building and the fire ravaged properties on the corner of High and Pitt Streets.

From the DCA’s beginning in 1981 and into the 1990’s, Carlisle had turned its downtown around and improved it significantly.

Go to Part III

The Marketing of Carlisle : Part VII

by Charlie Andrews

Where Do We Go From Here?

The responsibility for this community ultimately falls to our Borough Government. That does NOT mean that they do it all. We all share in the responsibility for this effort and it’s implementation. It does, however, mean that the Borough has the responsibility to show leadership in this effort themselves and through their appointees.

I would suggest a moderated, strategic planning meeting, hosted by the Borough at a public place in the downtown. The critical participants are the Borough of Carlisle, Cumberland County, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Downtown Carlisle Association. Other individuals or organizations such as the Historical Society, Dickinson College and others deemed necessary should also be included.

The object of this meeting is to design a specific action plan and assign responsibilities, with the ultimate goal of reshaping the Downtown Carlisle Association into a true marketing office. This office would be responsible for promoting and marketing Carlisle to the outside world, with a view to attracting people to Carlisle and its downtown for shopping, tourism, recreation, education, and culture. Concurrently, efforts should continue for attracting and recruiting quality merchants to the downtown.

I think a moderator would be helpful in keeping the meeting on track. Some of the objectives of this meeting might be:

• Establishing of a committee responsible for moving this forward.
• Outlining the scope of responsibilities of a rebuilt DCA.
• Identifying initial funding sources (to cover first 5 years).
• Identifying tasks and entities responsible for them.
• Establishing of a timeline for completion of actions.
• Establishing of any other subcommittees needed.

Thank You for . . .
taking the time to look this over. This document is meant to bring attention to a serious situation in our community. None of this will change overnight, but it will change, to first stop our decline and then to move us forward. Carlisle is a beautiful, historic and charming town with tremendous potential to thrive, and not just survive. This effort requires some courage and effort, but we have nothing to lose and the world to gain.

Sincerely,
*
Charles W. Andrews
249-1721
c2464@aol.com

The Marketing of Carlisle : Part V

by Charlie Andrews

Carlisle’s Potential

Carlisle is already a destination for the local area, but it is the potential day-trippers within a two-hour driving radius who put a tremendous amount of disposable income within reach of our community. This means more people coming to Carlisle for all the right reasons, to shop, partake of our cultural events, to establish businesses and even to live in the proposed renovated areas of our downtown. For this to happen Carlisle must market itself.

Downtown Carlisle is a destination for:
• Antiques • Art • Crafts
• Specialty Shops • Fine Dining • Boutiques
• History • Architecture • Entertainment
• Cultural Events • Fine Hotels • Bed & Breakfasts
• Books • Baking/Desserts

Additionally, Carlisle’s fine lodging in its downtown allows visitors to take in not only Carlisle but surrounding historic and scenic areas. Some other attractions to people from outside our area are:

• Carlisle Car Shows • Area Civil War Sites
• Cumberland County Historical Society • Local/Area Museums • Dickinson College
• Famous Trout Streams
• US Army War College • Historic Colleges
• Dickinson School of Law

Some Allies of Carlisle
who also have a mutual interest in the health of our community are:
• Area Industries • Carlisle Productions
• Dickinson College
• Law School • US Army War College • Wal-Mart
• Lowes • Home Depot

Go to Part VI

A&F Rental Property Management Partners

A&F Rental Property Management Partners

Started in 2000, Allen & Fleming Rental Property Management Partnership is a family owned and managed property management business founded in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Our goal is to find unique, historic, and ideally situated apartment and commercial units to renovate, restore, and revamp into modern day havens for both living and conducting business while maintaining the historic charm and architecture of downtown Carlisle.  Currently A&F has renovated and restored several buildings in downtown Carlisle including the home of the Gaia Fresh Food Café.  As of 2012, A&F was located exclusively in Carlisle, Pennsylvania focusing on restoring old buildings in the town’s beautiful historic district.

Also like facebook.com/CarlisleRents and follow @CarlisleRents

Carlisle Rents A&F Rental Property Management Partners
36 S Pitt St, Suite 105
Carlisle, PA 17013
302-827-3681

The Marketing of Carlisle : Part VI

by Charlie Andrews

Some Possible Future Enterprises?

Historical
• “The Shelling of Carlisle” Reenactment of the shelling of Carlisle by Jeb Stuart’s troops. This could be developed into festival celebrating Carlisle’s historic part in the Civil War. The festival could take place at the Carlisle Fairgrounds and also be developed as a Civil War re-enactors festival (vendors selling uniforms, paraphernalia, workshops, etc.). A festival should be at least a weekend long, and, of course, one of the highlights would be the reenactment of the shelling. The theater could be involved in showing a relevant film such as “Gettysburg.”

• “Washington at Carlisle” A review of the troops, reenacting George Washington’s coming to Carlisle on the way to western Pennsylvania to put down the Whiskey Rebellion. Again, this could be developed into a festival similar to the one above, only now with a revolutionary theme.

• Revolutionary War Walking Tour: Molly Pitcher, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, spies, and signers of the Declaration of Independence, etc. Historical movies with lecture/discussion afterward. Hotel package with period dinners and Patriot’s Ball, coordinated with the Cumberland County Historical Society and the Carlisle Theater.

The Carlisle Theater
• Theater/Hotel packages – Collaboration between the theater and hotel to coordinate show and movie packages. Object of bringing people and bus groups in for overnight or weekend stays. For example: Arrive Friday at hotel, performance/movie at theater. Saturday seminars/lectures at hotel and theater, gala dinner then show and theater. Sunday brunch, wrap-up and depart. Some packages might be: film festivals (Charlie Chaplin, Three Stooges, Jerry Lewis, animation, foreign film, etc.), live shows (Shakespeare, Gilbert and Sullivan, one-act play competition, etc.), music (jazz/blues series, acoustic guitar workshop and festival, violin makers festival, etc.)

• An Evening of Jazz at the Carlisle – Blitz Dinette, Steve Rudolph, Jimmy Woods. One of these local groups, even though popular, could not fill the theater, but the three groups featured the same evening would combine their following to fill the theater.

Art & Crafts
Transform the current fall arts and crafts festival into a three-day, juried arts festival, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. A committee of local arts professionals would be enlisted to help reformat the festival into a noteworthy event whose increased revenues could seriously underwrite our marketing office/efforts.

For an example, I would cite the “Mountain Heritage Arts & Crafts Festival” in Charles Town, West Virginia. This show is put on by the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce. According to their Executive Director, the revenues from this show account for significantly more than 50% of the total budget for that Chamber office. This show runs from Friday through Sunday, from 10 to 6 p.m.

What helps to draw outstanding artists and crafters to this event is the outstanding treatment that they receive by the people who put on the event. For example: electrical power is provided to any vendor who needs it. What helps to draw incredible crowds to this show is the serious commitment of advertising and marketing that is put into it. The budget for the show is typically $180,000.00. The revenues from the show are typically $250,000.00. On top of this, they do the show twice a year, in June and September.

In discussing this idea with some people, I was asked if I felt the area needed another arts and crafts show. The answer to this is that there is always room for someone doing it right.

Go to Part VII

Carlisle Pennsylvania – Information

Carlisle Pennsylvania – Information

Here is a quick list of information and resources for Carlisle. You can also find more by searching (using the search box at the top of the page).

Official Borough Sources
Carlisle Police : 717-243-5252
Carlisle Borough
Carlisle School District

Utilities
Electric: PP&L
Natural Gas: UGI
Water/Sewer: Contact the Borough (link above)
Telephone: Embarq

Organizations
Carlisle Chamber of Commerce
Downtown Carlisle Association

Dickinson College
Penn State Dickinson School of Law

Entertainment is Important Too…

If you have information that may be of use here, please email me: pamidstate@gmail.com and I will post pertinent information.
Please mention in the subject that this is for basic Carlisle, PA information.

The Molly Pitcher Frock

The Molly Pitcher Frock

Like people, buildings have their history.  The 44 North Bedford, home to Bedford Street Antiques, is no different.  The northern, three-story section of Bedford Street Antiques was originally a church.  Completed by the First Lutheran Church in 1852 at a cost of $7,122.50, glimpses of the original architecture can be found throughout the three floors.  During the Confederate Invasion of Carlisle, the church was struck twice. One shell landed in the supports of the roof without exploding.   Attendance was down until the shell was removed!

When the congregation built its present church on the corner of E. High and S. Bedford at the turn of the 1900s, the John W. Plank Company renovated the church into a factory for the manufacturing of women’s and children’s garments.  On the cutting edge of ready-to-wear day clothing, one of the company’s most successful lines was the one-piece cotton dress known as the “Molly Pitcher Frock.”  Plank’s garment business eventually became the Carlisle Garment Company in 1913.  In 1956, a 10,000 square foot building on the adjoining southern property was added for storage and shipping.  In its peak year of 1962, the company produced and shipped 175,464 dozen dresses and pajamas – that’s 72,105,505 pieces!  Total employment was about 300 with a payroll in 1963 of $650,000.  The company operated until 1976.

Molly Pitcher’s Poem

All day the great guns barked;
All day the big balls screeched and soared;
All day, ‘mid the sweating gunners grim,
Who toiled in their smoke-shroud dense and dim,
Sweet Molly labored with courage high,
With steady hand and watchful eye,
Till the day was ours, and the sinking sun
Looked down on the field of Monmouth won,
And Molly standing beside her gun.

Laura E. Richards

You can read Carlisle’s poem to Molly Pitcher on a visit to the Molly Pitcher Monument located in Carlisle’s Old Graveyard on East South St.
FYI: The statue of is a composite likeness of the descendants of Mary Hays McCauley, Carlisle’s Molly Pitcher.

Compliments of
Carlisle Guided Tours
Walking tours of Historic Carlisle
(717) 249-2926  (Not sure if they are still in business)

References:
Thompson, D.W. and Schaumann, Merri Lou. “Goodbye, Molly Pitcher,” Cumberland County History, Vol. 6, Number 1, Carlisle, PA, Cumberland County Historical Society,1989.

Echman, Walter. Program script on the history of the Carlisle Carpet Co., 1964.

Hoffer, Ann Kramer. Twentieth Century Thoughts-Carlisle: The Past Hundred Years, Carlisle, PA, Cumberland County Historical Society, 2002.