On the Ave: ‘Experiential’ Shopping

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By: Russell Swanson Executive Director, VDID/Main Street Vineland

Make Small Business Saturday every day.

VINELAND, N.J. – Many of us spend part of the Saturday after Thanksgiving—at least, the part before the Holiday Parade and other festivities—celebrating Small Business Saturday by patronizing our local independent merchants. Since Small Business Saturday was established by American Express to help support the small businesses that make up downtowns, it has grown into a nationwide phenomenon.

That raises the question: Why not make what we do on Small Business Saturday an every-shopping-day habit? These smaller businesses, after all, are open year-round and always eager for our business.

Well, that reality—if we believe the experts and look around us—is approaching.

At the Main Street New Jersey Regional Kickoff Workshop here in Vineland a couple of weeks ago, we heard Matthew Wagner, vice-president of Rehabilitation Programs for the National Main Streets Center, say that today’s shoppers—including millennials and babyboomers—want shopping to be more experiential. They want to touch and feel the product and they want shopping to be an “experience”—more than just grab, purchase, and leave, or shopping online.

At the same time, big-box stores and shopping malls are on the decline. Bankruptcies and other factors have taken their toll, turning these large parcels of real estate into areas in need of redevelopment.

That leaves the downtowns, with their smaller stores, to fill an increasingly important need. As we seek to attract millennials and babyboomers to live, work, play, and be entertained in our downtowns, more of our smaller businesses are taking a lead in helping to make shopping “experiential.” 

So, the next time you go shopping, start celebrating Small Business every day. You’ll be glad you did.

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Here’s a reminder about the business-related trifecta on Wednesday this week:

• The South Jersey Federal CreditvUnion will host a grand opening at 1 p.m. at their new location at 818 E. Landis Avenue. We’ll want to support them as they bring new life to the former Vineland Savings & Loan Association building.

• We’ll have our next Realtor Tour on The Ave from 2 to 5 p.m. The sponsor will be the South Jersey Federal Credit Union. It’ll start at the Main Street Vineland office, 603 E. Landis Avenue, for networking and refreshments, followed at 2:30 by an overview of the vision for downtown and incentives that can be offered. The actual tour will follow at 3 p.m., as participants will be shuttled to each property. We want to thank the Vineland Board of Education for use bus for the tour. Property owners are being requested to have factsheets ready for brokers, agents, and investors. Interested brokers, agents, investors, and entrepreneurs should contact the Main Street Vineland office by calling 856-794-8653 or e-mailing mainstreet@vinelandcity.org. 

We then move on to Landis Theater, 830 E. Landis Avenue, as we join with the Greater Vineland Chamber of Commerce (GVCC) for a Meet-and-Greet, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. This is a chance to bring downtown and area businesses and the public together, along with Main Street Vineland and GVCC representatives. One and all, come and join us!

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Remember our Run The Ave 5K, which will take place, rain or shine, on Sunday, June 23, starting at 9 a.m. We’re partnering with Second Capital Running for this event, with Premier Orthopaedic Associates as the major sponsor. Register now by visiting TheAve.biz, and going to the event link. It’s is $20 per runner (no walkers). Proceeds will benefit Main Street Vineland’s efforts.



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