There are hundreds of storefronts along the streets and skyways of Downtown Saint Paul (DtStP), home to around 200 small businesses. Is there a way through thoughtful planning and collaboration to help these businesses (and DtStP), encourage more businesses, decrease vacancy, and increase safety, wayfinding, and over all DtStP experience all at the same time?!
September 2020 – This project has attracted funding from two organizations, The Knight Foundation & Saint Paul Downtown Alliance. I’m excited to be working alongside the SPDA to execute some very fun pieces of this project. Check back for more updates as the project takes shape.
My idea is to catalogue and support the Downtown Saint Paul Storefronts. I have been creating a database that includes building owners, leasing agents, small business contact info and social media accounts. I would like to use this information to support collaboration between existing businesses and help fill vacant spaces by making downtown a more attractive place to visit, shop, live, and do business.
Many businesses don’t have accurate hours listed on their front doors, some don’t even have signs with the name of the business. Many are missing basic information on google maps and social media that consumers have become accustomed to using as the modern phone book. I would help businesses establish consistent physical signage as well as updated digital and social media pages. This will help people understand what’s available should they choose to make the trip downtown to dine/shop. I would make efforts to improve wayfinding by strategically beautifying vacant storefronts and public spaces between shopping destinations.
What we’ve got now…The Good
What we’ve got now…The Needs Improvement
Immediate Action Items:
- Gather contact info for buildings and storefronts
- Create Google Form to…
- Gauge interest in collaboration
- Gather issues/needs data
- Chart obvious digital deficiencies
- Chart storefront signage deficiencies (hours, branding, etc)
- Get pricing estimates on vinyl window signage.
- Familiarize myself more with city codes and art.
Long-Term Action Items:
- Form coalition group of Storefront businesses?
- Develop an agreed-upon basic digital presence and physical signage guideline.
- Boost digital strategy and physical presence of small businesses. Whether it’s creating storefront websites, or just filling in all the boxes on Google map profiles and social media accounts.
- Unified front for lobbying about universally agreed-upon problems like wayfinding, vacant blocks between open shops, and unwelcoming public spaces
- Communal investment in branding, marketing, or even something like a parking garage
- Create a cohesive downtown boutique shopping experience for downtown visitors that includes standard hours, with extended hours for special events.
- Developing downtown business guides to include in special event materials, such as a map insert for the Winter Carnival to show which shops are open nearby.
- Court a late-night coffee shop into a vacant space.
Potential Related Projects?