Downtown Hutch continues to grow but may need more to be sustainable

A decade ago, downtown Hutchinson had more empty buildings than full ones, with at least every other storefront without a restaurant, office or retailer. Today, only a few buildings remain vacant or underdeveloped, with more than 50 new businesses moving in since 2017.

The Hutchinson/Reno County Chamber of Commerce and several small businesses worked to continue the success of downtown, driving traffic out of town and locals into their stores.

“It was a great experience to leverage the local support of the city. The resources and partnerships of our chamber who want to be part of creating a vibrant place that people want to visit,” said Debra Teufel, President and CEO of The Hutchinson/Reno County Chamber. Trade.

What will continue to revitalize downtown Hutchinson?

People walk into the Hickory Stik Barbecue restaurant on Saturday, March 19, 2022, at 25 N. Main St. in downtown Hutchinson.

Continued:Security 1st Title named Reno County Small Business of the Month

Re-Nu owner Steve Fiffe said he saw a change in Main Street a decade ago.

After Apron strings opened 14 years ago, then moved to its current location about eight years ago, Fiffe said, when businesses began moving in.

“Apron Strings moved in next door to us,” he said. “There were half a dozen companies, probably a third of that block.”

Apron Strings owner Anne Dowell said bringing more customers to Main Street would take more than marketing efforts. She said Hutchinson needed the nightlife.

One problem Dowell found was keeping a business open past 5 p.m. She said the volume of business in the evening could not justify her paying her staff.

“People like to talk about good if downtown was open in the evening they would come, but would they really? No,” Dowell said.

Even with Third Thursdays bringing in business when the weather is clear, Dowell said it’s critically dependent on the weather, so she’s looking for a different solution to attract more customers.

Dowell said Main Street might need a hotel downtown or at least one nearby so visitors have somewhere to stay after watching something at the Fox Theater or visiting bars and restaurants.

“It will also bring in more people throughout the evening and in restaurants, if you have a hotel or some type of accommodation downtown,” she said.

Continued:Shortage of hotel rooms during NJCAA tournament keeps visitors away from Hutchinson businesses

Most downtown businesses have a roughly even split between online activity and foot traffic. Fiffe said that while online business generates revenue, foot traffic is always welcome because it brings more community.

Downtown is still growing and the Chamber wants to help

After the Hutchinson/Reno County Chamber of Commerce took over downtown management three years ago from a city office worker, Teufel said chamber staff and small businesses took several steps to begin revitalization.

The Chamber does not intend to slow down. Instead, they plan to continue marketing programs and strategies to keep businesses and attract new ones to Main Street.

New downtown businesses can contact the Chamber for signage opportunities, social and traditional marketing strategies, and tax support to get up to speed.

Downtown and Economic Development Manager Lacie Janzen said that even if a business chooses not to join the Chamber, it still has access to the Downtown Coalition.

“If people have an idea for a new business downtown or anywhere in Reno County, we encourage them to work with our Downtown Hutch and Greater Hutch Economic Development Office in the House “, said Teufel.

Economic development organizations Downtown Hutch and Greater Hutch often provide new small businesses with grants and funding for start-up costs.

For small businesses, marketing strategies are a significant start-up cost. The Downtown Coalition therefore helps by covering part of the initial cost.

“Downtown Hutch and the Market Hutch Committee also provide cooperative marketing funds to help our businesses promote themselves across digital and multimedia channels at reduced costs, allowing our members to further maximize their marketing dollars,” Teufel said. .

Currently, the Chamber has no plans to attract a downtown hotel or accommodation, but this may be a possibility in the future.

Dowell mentioned the renovation of the Landmark Building as a possible location for the hotel on Main Street.

“It’s a shame. I think the Landmark is so far away that we should have started 20 years ago to make it a nice place,” she said.

David H. Henry