First Second Saturday boosts square business

Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Photo courtesy of Too Squared, Lewisburg, Tenn. Cruzin' the Square, a display of collectable cars that was every fifth Saturday, is now held on the second Saturday of each month on Lewisburg's public square. The next one is on June 9.

By Clint Confehr

Senior Staff Writer

A new homegrown festival on Lewisburg's public square generated business for stores in the heart of the city, according to merchants and organizers of the first of their monthly Second Saturdays.

The Lewisburg Downtown Alliance event's theme was "browse and brunch," according to Andrea Childress, whose brainchild is to grow with a farmers' market next month. "The growing season really hasn't started yet."

So, the first of the monthly Second Saturdays capitalized on the fact that the next day was Mother's Day. There were gifts from merchants and products available for purchase as presents for moms.

Gene Parsons' pharmacy gave mothers red roses, homemade cookies and lemonade.

"It was in the store," Parsons said. "We couldn't have it outside because it rained. We could have done more, but we had a good time and it was worth doing. We're just trying to stimulate business on the square. There was a nice crowd on the square. It'll be better when the farmers' market opens."

Rick Tillis, a member of the Board of Directors for the Lewisburg Downtown Alliance, had an additional observation about plans for the farmers' market.

"The cold snap threw everything off," Tillis said.

Nevertheless, Tillis had more customers in his store Saturday, largely because of the event, but he conceded there was yet another reason. As proprietor of Tillis Jewelry, he had some anticipated appointments.

"I did some custom work for them and they came to pick it up," Tillis said. "But there were lots of new faces we've never seen before. One customer came from Nashville, and a lot from Franklin and some from Murfreesboro.

"I had some people come in specifically, saying they came to the square to check out all the businesses" because it was the first Second Saturday, he said.

If there were disappointments, he would ask, "What do you expect the first time you do it? It's going to take some time and have notoriety. Any time you do something people expect it to be a big thing, but you have to develop a following. You have to have something to do on the square."

Some of his customers "went and ate at Chickee's, and they spent some time on the square, too," Tillis said.

At Chickee's restaurant, proprietor Jennifer Crow said, "We served mothers a free breakfast."

Too Squared photographer Ken Todd offered discounts on picture sittings and reported that Rick Tillis, at the jeweler's new location at Second Avenue and Commerce Street, "had a lot of foot traffic."

Robert Crane, proprietor of 50s Ice Cream Parlor on Church Street, "had a good day Saturday... a little better" than others, at least in part because he offered a T-bone steak supper that day and he planned that for about two weeks.

Will he offer T-bones again?

"I'm going to leave that up to my wife," Crane said, adding, "The Cruise In always generates business. It's a big help for all the businesses on the square."

Crow intends to participate on June 9 and again a week later for the Father's Day weekend, "so we'll be open June 16," she said. "Our second Saturday event did really well considering we didn't do a lot of advance advertising.

"June 9 they're doing dinner and a movie," she said.

Zumba class leader Robyn Arnold taught basic steps during a 90-minute class during the first of what promises to be a continuing series of Second Saturdays.

"She usually has a pretty good-sized class," Childress said. "A lot of people are afraid to come to the class if they've never been."

So, offering a taste of Zumba apparently drew patrons and friends.

The idea of the Second Saturdays is to have a regular mid-month date that's easy to remember, as well as making the date practical for groups of people who conduct fundraising events for various causes.

"We encourage other groups to do their fundraisers here," Childress said.

And while the Cruise In was cut short by rain, she said, "There were at least 30 cars at the car show."