Local News

Shop Owners Hope Downtown Celebration Equals Big Business

Posted July 15, 2007

— Last year’s Raleigh Wide Open marked Fayetteville Street’s opening. This Saturday, Raleigh will host another mega-block party on its main street.

Bill and Cristi Heffelfinger said they enjoyed last year’s celebration so much they decided to call downtown Raleigh home.

“We just thought it was so great. We had such a great time, and we thought, oh, we want to support this,” Cristi said.

“Next thing we know, we’re buying a condo in downtown Raleigh,” Bill said with a laugh. “As days gone by, you see more and more foot traffic.”

But Sundays can be slow at Port City Java.

“There’s people down here, but we’re still not getting the crowds that we should be,” said business owner Maria Minichiello.

The café started its weekend schedule a month after Raleigh Wide Open. Three other businesses on Fayetteville Street that opened within the past year also have weekend hours.

That’s a change from last year when there was not one business open along the street the day after the big block party. What hasn't changed is that most businesses still operate Monday through Friday.

“Some of them are on wait-and-see mode to see if customers will come, and so, it’s sort of a give-and-take,” said David Diaz, with the Downtown Raleigh Alliance.

While festivals and even national exposure on CBS work well as a draw, some think Raleigh's main street needs to offer more reasons to visit.

“I would love to see a little more of a shopping perspective,” said Bill Heffelfinger.

Business owners said they'll be ready for next Saturday's crowds. They're bringing in extra staff and will stay open late.


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  • ncwebguy Jul 16, 2007

    Downtown can be as expensive or affordable as you want. Fayetville Street Tavern, the Big Easy, Woodys, Angelos, Vic's, and the mexican place in City market have about the same prices as anywhere else for what they provide. Snoopys and Char Grill on Hillsborough are open late and are cheap.

    During the week, there is Chick Fil A, Cooper's Barbecue, Quizno's, Brass Grill, Cafe Carolina, Roly Poly, etc. Times Bar, Yancy's, etc. are a little more expensive but are pretty good. Second Empire and Fins are expensive, but those are not the only options.

    As for retail, there are a couple of non-art stores in City Market -- the native american store, the chocoloate store, and some antique places, with the Explorisstore nearby. There is Williams-Cozart in the warehouse district and a few stores in Glenwood South. And Seaboard Station has Logan's Trading Company, the grocery store, and an ace hardware.

    DT was downhill before Halmark closed, but is on the way back now.

  • reyinral Jul 16, 2007

    The only shopping or eating being done downtown is going to be your elite that can afford the food and the shopping. There are no retail for the majority of folks, only the minority who can afford to even live in a condo down there. Bad move when Belks moved away. Downtown went down from that point on. Then when Hallmark closed that was the beginning of the end of downtown.

  • Stormy13 Jul 16, 2007

    You are so right "london12". Even CVS closes at 1 p.m. on Saturday, or they were the last time I was downtown on a Saturday afternoon. We need more retail, small specialty shops. etc., to draw customers back down town on weekends. I remember so well going downtown on weekends and shopping Belks, Lerners and Butler Shoes. Once the "street" was made into a "mall" everything went away too. It's going to be tough getting it back, especially with all the malls and shopping centers out there.

  • richard2 Jul 16, 2007

    where do you park?

  • FloydRTurbo Jul 15, 2007

    Same scenario plays out all across the country in these "revive downtown" projects.

    The "City" makes overly optimistic projections to small merchants .... who in turn apply a "hurry up" factor to even those unrealistic projections. The projections of consumer traffic NEVER pan out and the merchants grumble and go bust.

    There has to be a LONG TERM committment to subsidize the hand-to-mouth merchants or they go bust and its revolving door turn-over.

    Bureaucrats and politicians ALWAYS blow smoke on the front end and say "not our fault" when the smoke clears. Believe them and you have no one to blame but yourself.

  • london12 Jul 15, 2007

    Where can you buy something, anything other than at CVS. It's amazing that with all the workers downtown and now all the residents, with more of both to come, there's no plans for any retail. I wish Belks was still downtown.