South Boston News & Record
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Cruise In can further enhance the economic development of the downtown Clarksville business
SoVaNow.com / July 02, 2014Good afternoon Clarksville! Last week there were several meetings which included our town manager, Jeff Jones, our Police Chief, Ricky Wilkerson, several local business owners and the “committee” that has spearheaded the development and growth of the Lake Country Cruise In. The purpose of these meeting was to explore potential issues and expand on how the Cruise In can further enhance the economic development of the downtown Clarksville business community. The closing of Virginia Avenue can certainly pose some inconveniences to our local citizenry but as this event grows, the continually increasing number of participants will surely make this sacrifice an investment in our community’s future.
Much of our conversation was spent on how we can better direct traffic, provide parking opportunities and increase the retail sales potential for our downtown merchants. Our committee, the Lake Country Chamber of Commerce and the town of Clarksville have all committed to an increased number and better signage for directing traffic around the Cruise In area. Additionally, Ricky Wilkerson suggested and all agreed to limit the area to main street from 3rd to 5th street for our July 5th Cruise In. Hopefully this will make the east bound detour an easy transition and highlight the parking, shopping and restaurant locations on the east bound route. Furthermore, the west bound traffic would continue to use Rose Hill to 5th street with additional signage for clarification.
We encourage our local merchants to develop sales opportunities to the several hundred potential customers that the Cruise In brings to Clarksville each month. Our studies indicate that at least 1.5 people accompany each car in the show plus there are approximately 2 spectators present for each car entered. Our Cruise In is averaging well over 100 cars monthly. Is there a more effective way to provide in excess of over 500 customers captive for our merchants to sell to for over 4 hours during a historically low traffic period?
Response from our restaurateurs ranged from a “major business killer” to “our busiest and most profitable night of the month.” In fact one local business commented that they have to add additional staff to handle the load. In order to enhance the business community the Cruise In Committee has offered, with assistance form the Chamber to distribute menus, flyers etc. to the participants. We have also encouraged the business community to personally embrace the event and market directly to those who have come to Clarksville for the evening.
Long term, we hope to grow the Cruise In well past its current size, perhaps as many as 500 cars each month! I am confident of one thing; our monthly Cruise In puts potential customers on the streets of Clarksville (500-plus monthly) and has the potential to grow exponentially. If our merchants embrace these potential sales and our community is welcoming, friendly and accommodating, then all of our citizenry will benefit.
Bill Baker and the Cruise In Committee