And the weekend isn’t even half over…

It’s been a fine Spring day.

The day start pretty early, I did some things around the house. Some “administrative” home stuff. 

Then, off to the town library to help out with some Spring garden clean-up. It’s something I’ve wanted to offer to help out with in the past but it always seemed like it happened at times during the week when I was at work. Now I’m not so sure – it seems like maybe they do things on the weekend but I just don’t hear about them.

Well we did a bunch of clean-up, mostly raking up the piles of leaves that had sat through most of the winter. One of the members of the Friends of the Metuchen Library spent some time digging up and chopping down a 15-foot tree that was soon going to be causing problems for the tree it was growing too close to. More picking up, etc… then I walked over with one of my neighbors to La Gateaux, which is a new coffee shop in town. Coffee, croissant, some good chat, then home.

It wasn’t even 11am yet. Big start to the day, huh?

An hour or so later we were out and about doing some more errands. Ran over to the Indian grocery to pick-up some nuts (they have good nuts at reasonable prices). Then we went to the Raritan Bakery which we recently discovered. It has a really nice selection of baked goods and has the perk of a little ad-hoc barbecue stand setup out front where we bought some food for lunch.

Back home, nap time. Next up is this evening we’ll drive to Montclair, NJ for a house concert to see some nice folk music.

 

My request for Chipotle to open in my town of Metuchen, NJ

I recently found out that some folks in my town think it would be a great idea for a Chipotle to open on or near our Main Street. I’m a big fan of Chipotle, so I thought I’d look into what one might do as a first step in that direction.

Turns out they have a web form you can submit to make a request – anyone can make the request, doesn’t have to come from any sort of official, just a neighbor who cares.

So that’s what I did. 🙂

I live in an awesome, walkable downtown community which has a great stream of commuter and local shopper traffic both passing through and using us as a primary destination. We are right on a one-seat ride via train to Manhattan, making our town attractive for all sorts of reasons. We have an active, supportive community of folks who are constantly looking for ways to make our town better. And from what I hear, we have lots of teens and parents who love Chipotle. I’m not the real estate expert for our town, but my understanding is that we have several storefronts with varying levels of advantage in the factors your team considers for new locations – some have better walking visibility, some better driving visibility, some closer to parking, some closer to more of the “passing through” traffic on the main arteries through town. Hopefully you’ll come check us out and give an opinion on opening a location here! Our town has a New Business guide published here: http://www.metuchennj.org/documents/new-businessguide.pdf

Learning about what makes a healthy suburban downtown

It’s a beautiful sunny day. Walking around town, stopped in for a chat with a local business owner who is working on transitioning / re-opening a business on our Main Street in Metuchen, NJ.

There’s a lot of complexities to opening and running a business – many of them are ones I wouldn’t have thought about. And the health of our Main Street’s businesses is really critical to the health and appeal of our town. The businesses aren’t just there for our convenience in shopping, they are there to support the healthy town community.

Lots to learn. Looking forward to learning what I can.

How to run a “Win the Window” event in your local town

This post is based on ideas from Highland Park’s February Win the Window 2014 event.

These are my ideas to try to sketch out what would need to be done by a small group in order to run a similar “Win the Window” event in Metuchen, NJ.

Your comments and feedback are welcome!

Overview

A “Win the Window” event is one in which a group of small businesses in a downtown donate prizes, all those prizes are displayed in one store window, shoppers are given some way to enter the contest, and at the end of the month a person wins all the prizes from the window.

Things to do

  • Get a core set of 5-10 businesses to commit.
  • Make the initial project small enough so that it can be organized and implemented in one month by two or three volunteers.
  • Set a target value for all donated items of $15.
  • Decide early on which business will be the one which displays the window with all the prizes.
  • Print and distribute entry cards to all participating businesses, along with a simple set of rules for participation.
  • Pick a date for the final drawing.

Rules (needs work and more detail)

  • Every time someone shops in one of the 5-10 participating businesses during the month, they will receive an entry in the drawing. To “shop” a person must buy $10 or more of something in a single transaction.
  • On the first day of the following month, a drawing is made by one of the organizers to select the person who wins everything from the window.

Questions, notes, and thoughts…

In Highland Park, I think the entry was limited to one per family in each shop. It’s not clear whether or not a purchase was required but it seems like not. I think it would be better to require a purchase and to allow as many entries as there are qualifying purchases. Is there any downside to this?

Thinking it would be good to have every business donate their prize of a similar value, about $15.

Some info about opening a business in Metuchen, NJ

Links to these helpful “Getting Started with a Business” documents were recently shared on the Take Back Metuchen’s Main Street group over on Facebook.

Some of the info might be a little outdated, but still lots of useful information, I’d say!

Why am I writing about this? After all, I have no intention of opening a business in our adopted home town. Well, it’s because our town is trying to work together to help encourage more business and more stable businesses. I figure the more useful information we all share and discuss regarding how to do this, the better. When people are better informed, they’ll have a better chance at succeeding in business.

Some down-home community activism

We’ve lived in our new home, in what turns out to be a vibrantly active community, for a few years now. The town is called Metuchen, NJ, and many people think this town simply rocks.

I know we do.

But it can use a little help. Heck, any town can use a little help from time to time and we are fortunate to live in a town which already has a heck of a lot of community involvement to do the helping!

Recently, it turns out my wife has become a good bit involved in some of our local “issues” – and the topic was just covered by one of the local news outlets: Residents rise up to seek solutions to downtown ills

We’ll have to see where this goes…

I got an honorary mention in the article as one of the guys involved in last weekend’s Litter Brigade. 🙂