Year-End Wrap

by Russell Swanson, Exec. Dir., VDID, Main Street Vineland

It’s time to take a look back on the year 2020 in the life of Main Street Vineland and The Ave. In many ways, it was, to use and often-used expression, “a year unlike any other.”

We started out with great plans—a calendar full of events large and small, design-related ideas, seminars, workshops, and other marketing ideas, and an aggressive fundraising and sponsorship program to help pay for all of it.

But then COVID hit and, like writer Robert Burns wrote many years ago, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” The result is that we had to rethink the year. Events had to be postponed—and then cancelled. Others had to be refashioned. We still had a successful Running The Ave 5K, Pumpkin Patch Party, a revamped Dine on The Ave and Weddings on The Ave, as well as a great, downsized Christmas Parade.

Our sponsors—Newfield National Bank, BB&T, Century Savings Bank, Second Capital Running, Al’s Shoes, Lidl, and Toyota of Vineland—worked with us, following us from a cancelled event to sponsor an event that was definite. I can’t tell you how grateful we are for their cooperation and support.

Despite the adversity, however, we applied another old saying: “When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade.”

Rather than closing things down for the duration of the crisis, our Main Street office and staff became busier than ever. Despite the pandemic, we had some very visible grand opening ribbon-cutting ceremonies. We also ran a restaurant promotion at a time when eateries were limited to phone-in orders, takeouts, and limited outdoor dining. We ran a “Shop Local—Shop Safe” campaign with the Greater Vineland Chamber of Commerce. We have established a “Working on The Ave” campaign to invite people to take advantage of available downtown working and living space as an alternative to the more crowded environment for working in the larger cities.

Most of all, our office became a clearinghouse of information about grants and other programs to help businesses weather the financial storm of the COVID crisis. We get this information from the city, county, state, and federal governments. We then go through it and push the relevant material out to our businesses. It has become, practically, a full-time job.

In the light of all of this, I’m proud of the resilience of our downtown and our businesses. I can’t think of one downtown business that was forced to terminate operations because of the COVID and I like to think that if all this effort had something to do with that, it was surely worth it.

Now, it’s time to look at 2021, and to start looking at those big plans again. Here’s hoping that we can make it work this time.

***

Main Street Vineland is here to help. In the spirit of social distancing and respecting the safety of our staff, our office is currently closed to walk-in public though we are still working every day. We pass this information along to our businesses every Tuesday, in the 9 a.m. hour, on SNJ Today 99.9 POP FM, Channel 22, and on Facebook Live on facebook.com/snjtodayradio.

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On the Ave