Some small businesses in downtown Raleigh hurt by city’s big events

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – One of the most noticeable signs of a growing city is the addition of big events to the city’s calendar and that’s a box that Raleigh has definitely checked off, but according to some small business owners, big events don’t always lead to big sales.

“It’s a challenge for all business owners in Raleigh,” said Stephanie Herold, co-owner of the Dogwood Collective.

Blake Street, just a few blocks away from Fayetteville Street, is where Herold decided to set up shop a year and a half ago. Herold said she thought that with all the big events Raleigh hosts, like Wide Open Bluegrass, the numerous food truck rodeos and SPARKcon, just to name a few, there would be would be no shortage of customers.

Herold said she was wrong.

“They don’t see all the great things the city has to offer because they’re barricaded or concentrated to an isolated area,” she said.

Often these weekend events shut down the main streets downtown and that can prevent many people from venturing out.

Herold said that perhaps the “lack of signage…Or even just the ability to know there are other things beyond Fayetteville Street” could be the problem.

She’s not alone.

Cathy Brooks, owner of Nora & Nicky’s, located right by Fayetteville Street, said business drops big time during these events.

“It’s pretty severe, it really cuts traffic down to a bare minimum,” she said.

But she’s come up with one solution.

“The main way we try to counteract that is we try to go out, take flyers, coupons, and everything like that and go out to the event the day, or the day before, and hand it out to people that are there.”

The Dogwood Collective also created a retailer map that other retailers pass out to customer and they said it has helped.

“We see four or five people every day come in with these maps because they’ve gone to other shops [that also use] these maps,” said Herold.

Some downtown business owners said they want a larger conversation with city leaders and other business leaders to brainstorm other ways to help the city and its small businesses during Raleigh’s weekend events that bring in thousands of people.

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