Making the most of "shoulder seasons"

Partnering with your local DDA to warm up those "cold shoulders."

No stranger to a downtown Michigan business is the "shoulder season" or off season. Soon after your busy season ends, business slows right down, and your website traffic/orders and store front become ghost towns. Plus, who knows if the customers this year will remember you when next season rolls around. But what might be foreign is what to do about it. As a single business it might seem like a daunting task to be the driving force to bring business to your area but partnering with other local businesses, Chamber of Commerce, Visitors Bureaus or your local Downtown Development Authority(DDA), gives you the strength and support your community needs to get through the slow times.

Michigan State University Extension partner, Northern Lakes Economic Alliance
co-hosts Regional DDA forums to educate and gather ideas for helping local DDA’s succeed. At a recent Northwest Michigan DDA Forum meeting the discussion topic was "What are some shoulder season projects and/or events your DDA undertakes to stimulate activities in the downtown."

Here are just a few of those ideas:
  • Shopping Scrambles
  • Restaurant Week
  • Community "Bucks"
  • Classes unique to the business (i.e. food demos, jewelry making, games, etc.) hosted in-store
  • Holiday Open House
  • Food and Drink Festivals
  • Hospitality Nights

As the saying goes “a rising tide lifts all boats”, partnering with your DDA, local organizations, other businesses, and community members to alleviate the stress of the off season is one business idea worth getting behind.

Michigan State University Extension has had a unique relationship with the regional economic development organization Northern Lakes Economic Alliance (NLEA) for more than 20 years. Recognizing the strength of combining resources, this partnership focuses on economic development, entrepreneurship growth and community infrastructure throughout a four-county region in the northwest Lower Peninsula, specifically Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan and Emmet counties. As a result, the NLEA utilizes resources offered through MSU Extension as it provides leadership to state-wide programs sponsored by MSU Extension.”

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