Local News

Shop Owners Hope Downtown Celebration Equals Big Business

Posted July 15, 2007 10:24 p.m. EDT

— 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.