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 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

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

Get the Carlisle, PA Newsletter!

Get the Carlisle, PA Newsletter!

Sign up today, stay up to date!

If you want to know what is going on with the site and Carlisle, PA Restaurants?  Then you really need to get signed up for our newsletter.  We respect your privacy and will not sell your email adddress!

What’s in it for you?

  • Updates on New Businesses as they let us know
  • Special Offers from Shops and Businesses
  • Giveaways when we get stuff!

You can always unsubscribe at any time. All emails sent include instructions on how to unsibscribe.
Again – we do not SPAM and we only send legitimate offers and information

The Marketing of Carlisle : Part IV

by Charlie Andrews

A Return To Growth

What does a viable, dynamic and prosperous downtown offer?
• Increased employment.
• Increased property values.
• The adaptive reuse and renovation of older existing structures.
• Increased tax revenues.
• A more attractive community for new business, industry and residents.
• Enhanced quality of life for all of Carlisle.

The “Marketing of Carlisle” concept is supported by significant data and research. A 1997 study commissioned by the Greater Carlisle Chamber of Commerce and prepared by the Danth Corporation is called A Retail Marketing Strategy for Carlisle, PA. The study cites the strengths and weaknesses of Carlisle, and recommends strategies for revitalization. In regards to the downtown it says: “This downtown has a number of important assets, not the least of which is a leadership that fashioned an effective positioning strategy and made important improvements. Because of these improvements and policies, as well as the downtown’s other development assets, DANTH believes that Downtown Carlisle is ready to emerge from its chrysalis and become a true regional destination.”

In 2000, an actual blueprint for the downtown’s revitalization came from the Cumberland County Redevelopment Authority, and was approved by the DCA. It is titled Carlisle MainStreets Plan: The Road to Shaping the Downtown into a Commercial and Retail Power Center. The plan describes the leasing of 30,000 square feet of first floor space for prime retail space, the development of 20,000 square feet of class A office space on second floors, and 25 market rate apartments in the downtown. It also addresses public relations and business recruitment, facade and public private site improvements and even public and semipublic art. In conclusion, the report states: ”Consensus on a downtown strategy is of critical importance. National retailers overall want to know what the overall goals of the downtown revitalization effort are before locating in a downtown. Funding agencies such as state government also want assurances that there is consensus on an overallstrategy. For these reasons, Carlisle MainStreets can be an important document to help guide the downtown effort in both the short and long term.”

The recently completed Drive Shed Report by the South Central Assembly for Effective Governance states that within a 20 minute drive of Carlisle: “The population in this area is estimated to change from 393,935 to 395,848, resulting in a growth of 0.5% between 2000 and 2004. Over the next five years (2005-2010), the population is projected to grow by 1.6%”.

The return to growth for the downtown will require a resurgence of the DCA. The DCA’s executive director’s position needs to be upgraded in salary and benefits. The position’s job description needs to have an overriding emphasis on marketing and communications. There needs to be an increase in funding for materials, memberships in outside marketing groups, advertising packages in outside areas we are targeting, etc. Again from the DANTH study: “The responsibility for implementing the Downtown development strategy presented in this report would fall mainly upon the Downtown Carlisle Association (the DCA). While in the past the DCA has shown itself to be an effective organization, it is highly doubtful that this small staff and modest budget will be sufficient to implement the proposed strategy. The required heavy promotions and advertising, in both the print and broadcast media, means that the DCA will need substantially more program funds for air time and print ads. The additional recruitment efforts, targeted though they might be, will also require additional program funds. The ads, promotions and recruitment materials will all have to be designed. All of this will require additional staff who have the proper training and job experience.”

Funding this effort initially for the first five years should be a coalition of the Borough, County, Chamber of Commerce, DCA, major businesses and industries. It should also include any state or federal funding sources such as Community Development Block Grant funds and the Department of Community and Economic Development and other private and local sources detailed in the Carlisle MainStreets Plan. Two years before the end of this funding period, the borough should enact an ordinance for the creation of a “Business District Authority” (BDA), or as described in the DANTH study: “DANTH strongly recommends that Carlisle’s leaders seriously explore the feasibility of establishing a Downtown Investment District to provide some of the additional funds the DCA will require.”

The report further states: “These districts are a mechanism that allow downtown business operators and property owners to assess themselves and thus raise the funds needed to provide the special services and improvements that can revitalize a downtown. The other citizens of the municipality are not assessed! but all who might benefit from a special service district are assessed according to some fair and agreed upon formula.”

The bottom line is that we will know if this course of action is working within three years, and if it is, the BDA or some other formula to sustain it will be doable.

Development a marketing plan is crucial, and this responsibility would be that of the executive director of the DCA. This would become a strategy to use our funds tactically to derive the greatest return.

Go to Part V