Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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August 5, 2013

First SandBlast draws crowds, but business owners say not a lot of extra profit

GOSHEN — The two-day sand volleyball tournament volleyed a positive blast.

“It seems to have struck a chord with the people in the community,” said Gina Leichty, director of Downtown Goshen Inc.

She referred to the Downtown Goshen SandBlast Festival during First Fridays and Saturday.

“There was a lot of excitement and I was not sure how it would go being on Main Street,” Liechty said, “but despite the sketchy weather that started out, it ended up being a nice giant block party for the whole community. It seemed to be enjoyed by people.”

The recognition for suggesting the event goes to Goshen Mayor Allan Kauffman, Liechty said.

“He gets credit for the whole thing,” she said.

Leichty says she was surprised at the caliber of volleyball players from the community.

“There were a lot of skilled players and it was fun to watch,” she said. “I think the merchants were glad since the fair was last week and they always take a hit. This is nice to get people back downtown eating and purchasing and events like this are helpful.”

The goal of the Downtown Goshen Inc. has been to get people in front of the stores during events like First Fridays, Leichty said.

“Then the stores can get them (customers) inside,” she said. “There’s a lot of competition from people on First Fridays, so businesses get creative in bringing customers.”

Ten Thousand Villages Goshen had a tent sale with great deals featured in their sidewalk tent and additional deals in the store. Woldruff’s Footwear and Apparel had a semi-annual clearance sale.

How did the merchants fare during the two days with the 200 and 300 blocks of South Main Street blocked off for the tournament?

Larry A. Libey, owner/vintner of Gateway Cellar Winery, said there were fewer customers at his business.

“First Fridays are always busy, but I think people were making other plans because of the weather,” Libey said. “We were busy but not as busy as usual. I think the weather was a factor. Saturday was not any more busier than usual.”

Down the block at Gift of G.A.B., business was slower for a Saturday, said Genie Nisley, an employee at the store.

“It’s been kind of slow today with less people inside the store and for First Fridays, but it was good,” Nisley said. “We had decent sales but not extraordinary by any means. It felt like a little less people were out. It’s possibly the last time people could get away before school starts.”

Keith Graber Miller, owner of Found, an art gallery in downtown Goshen, said the business he owns with his wife, Ann Graber Miller, had better business than usual.

“We sold more in terms of sales than a typical First Fridays. I always appreciate what’s done to bring people to town who have never been here before,” Graber Miller said. “First Fridays makes this a destination town. It’s just wonderful and I’m delighted. I’m very grateful for the planning that goes into First Fridays.

“It was fun to have the volleyball in front of the store. We have had steady traffic and today (Saturday) has been great, too. The bigger events allow more exposure to our store, the smaller events allow more personalized attention for our customers. Both are good. All the merchants should be delighted for First Fridays.”

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