Spotlight: Youngest Holiday Pop-Up Proprietor

As part of its focus on economic vitality, DSI facilitated a number of pop-up stores for the Holiday Walks again this year, to launch new entrepreneurs and highlight great downtown first-floor commercial spaces that deserve a permanent tenant. The pop-ups are possible because of generous property owners who worked with DSI to provide no-cost, low-cost or utilities-only leases for the five weeks of the Walks.

Read more about the other six downtown Holiday Walk pop-ups>

Proprietor Aaliyah Kissick meets the Lincolns during Small Business Saturday. Her pop up is open thru the Walks.

The youngest “proprietor” of our 2017 pop-up program is a 17-year-old senior at Athens High School, who is building on the legacy of the Myers Brothers Department Store at Washington & Fifth by trying out a brick-and-mortar experience in the former Mens Department.

Aaliyah Kissick started AK Boutique, an online retail outlet featuring modern, trendy clothes in June 2017 with support from friends and family. “The Boutique combines two of my great loves: deals and fashion,” says the former Miss Jr.  Teen Illinois and in-demand model (including at the Dare to be Different Fashion Show in August which highlighted twelve downtown stores with women’s clothing). “My motto is ‘We take the work out of thrifting for you’ so you don’t have to be overwhelmed or worried you won’t find something perfect for you,” she says. The clothes she hand-picks for sale are all popular within the last three years, with most items under $15.

Aaliyah has been drawn to the retail world as early as she can remember. She says that since she was about three feet tall, she always made a beeline toward the clearance sections of clothing stores with the natural inclination to organize the jungle of disorganized, packed racks.

After a brief stint working at a local clothing store, she knew she could put her own personal stamp and style on a retail venture. Her emphasis is on making every “body” look beautiful and taking the guesswork out of thrifting for her customers.

Her personal goal with AK Boutique has been to save as much as she can to attend college for a business degree. The opportunity to branch out as a brick-and-mortar for the holidays was an opportunity she just couldn’t pass up, both for the experience and the potential to increase her sales.

AK Boutique offers:
-Sizes XXS to 5X
-Long sleeve shirts, short sleeve shirts, sweaters, jackets, coats, holiday dresses, casual dresses, jeans, dress pants, leggings, skirts, shoes, and purses
-Friendly, helpful staff

Her goal after college? To open a permanent retail boutique in Springfield, of course!

Fashion Show on December 9

On Saturday, December 9, AK Boutique will be hosting a fashion show at 2 pm in the pop-up located at 101 S 5th Street (Washington Street Entrance) and everyone is encouraged to come and check out the available clothing and styled looks. “The models will be local girls with natural beauty to celebrate body positivity,” says Aaliyah.

About the Space

This is the second year that the Myers Brothers Building has hosted a pop-up in the first floor space. It has a beautiful interior and a great history. After decades as one of the city’s top shopping destinations, Myers Brothers Department Store sold out to Bergner’s in 1979, which operated in that location until it moved out to the mall in 1986. AG Edwards had their offices there from 1987-97, and then the non-profit Illinois Assistive Technology Program moved to Spring Street in 2015. To inquire about leasing the space, contact Myers Commercial Realty.

 

Buy Your Tickets to Celebrate 25 Years of DSI

The 25th anniversary of the founding of Downtown Springfield Inc. by business and city leaders is nearly here! Join us (fittingly) on January 25, 2018 for DSI’s Annual Dinner, an evening that will entertain and dazzle, honoring our growing neighborhood and the people who make it special.

This is the biggest fundraiser that DSI holds every year to fund our work. DSI is a 501(c)6 business association that is funded primarily by business memberships, fundraiser and event sponsorships. As a Main Street organization, we undertake a plethora of activities to increase the economic and cultural vitality of downtown Springfield. Our 2017 work led by paid staff, a volunteer board of directors and hundreds of community volunteers, included working on business attraction and small business issues, advocating for more residential units, and promoting this neighborhood as a destination for dining, shopping and socializing. We are also well-known for our 2017 events including the Art Alley Pop-Up, Old Capitol Farmers Market, Amaranth Apple Festival, Friends of the Market Street Dinner, First Fridays and other business promotions and Old Capitol Holiday Walks that bring thousands to the downtown district every year.

Our generous sponsors of the 25th anniversary Annual Dinner are pulling out all of the stops to celebrate the quarter-century mark in style and set the stage for the coming days of vision, vitality, volume and decreasing vacancies.

If you haven’t already, nominate your favorite downtown businesses for this year’s Awards>

Add the date to your calendar>

Support DSI’s work by purchasing a table or individual tickets now> Trust us when we say, people will be talking about this event in the weeks following — and you won’t want to miss it!

Premier Sponsor
President Abraham Lincoln Springfield, a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel
Hanson Professional Services

VIP Pre-Party Sponsor
AT&T

Co-Host
Watts Copy Systems

Anniversary Video Sponsor
Illinois Realtors

Supporters
Alaina Beaird Graphic Design
Anvil & Forge Brewing and Distilling
Buzz Bomb Brewing Co.
DaveHeinzel.com
Frye Williamson Press
Network Knowledge
Spinner Plastics
131 Photography
Wm Van’s Coffee House

 

Help Save the Historic Tax Credit

The federal historic tax credit to revitalize historic buildings was eliminated in the House Tax Reform bill released yesterday by the House Ways and Means Committee.

We know that the Historic Tax Credit has a proven track record of creating jobs, spurring private investment, and generating fiscal revenue. While the Tax Reform bill is intended to stimulate economic growth, elimination of the federal historic tax credits undermines the revitalization of older and historic town centers like Springfield’s.

Congress will begin debate on this bill next week with a vote expected by mid-November.

Join us as a citizen who supports downtown revitalization by ACTING NOW to communicate the value of the Historic Tax Credit to your Representatives and Senators in Congress:

Find out who represents you in Congress>
Call during office hours. Ask to speak to tax staff or ask for a tax staffers’ email address.

A suggested outline of your email message or phone call:

Introduce yourself as a constituent.

Say “I heard the historic tax credit is eliminated in the House version of the tax reform bill. I am extremely concerned that this important community redevelopment incentive will no longer be available to revitalize Springfield’s central historic district. Our National Register District in downtown Springfield was just expanded a few years ago specifically so that additional buildings could use the federal credit and be rehabilitated.”

You can add how the federal historic tax credit has been influential in revitalizing downtown Springfield:

  • The St. George Building Apartments, which were filled in a few months, at the corner of 3rd and Monroe, used federal historic tax credits to finance it.
  • Neither the Booth Building or the Ferguson Building would be moving forward as projects without the historic tax credit. (Vele Restaurant is opening next week in the Ferguson.)
  • The Chamber’s project to rehabilitate the former First United Methodist Church at Capitol and 5th wouldn’t be moving toward construction without the historic tax credit.

There have been multiple rehab projects in the downtown that have utilized the credit in the last 10 years:

  • the KingTech headquarters in the Buck Building on the north side of the square;
  • the Fisher Latham Block across from the Presidential Library on 6th housing Abe’s Old Hat and Wild Rose on the first floors (done by Carolyn Oxtoby and Dick Morse);
  • the Jennings Ford Dealership rehabbed by INB at 4th and Jackson, and
  • the Windsor Hotel rehabbed by Development Services Corporation into beautiful office space at 4th and Adams (with a portion opening as Itty Bitty Fashion Trunk in late November).

These are just a few examples of the power of the federal historic tax credit. Thanks for your advocacy!

What the Comp Plan Says About Downtown

Rather than attempting to stamp suburbia on our historic downtown as previous comprehensive plans did, “Forging a New Legacy,” Springfield’s new comprehensive plan, allows the community to recognize the uniqueness of each area and the opportunities (and challenges) that go with that uniqueness.

Can Springfield forge ahead with vision as the title of the newest comprehensive plan supposes? Only time will tell.

The plan, now available for public review, makes long-overdue and much-needed updates to the most recent version from 2000.

Although this new plan includes major transportation arterials that were described in previous versions (a strong nod toward outward growth), it does attempt to help steer our focus and attention back toward the center.

“Forging a New Legacy” highlights an increasingly relevant issue: rate of growth. The plan projects that Springfield will grow at around 10 percent over 20 years, or one-half of one percent per year. This conservative (and likely realistic) view on the rate of growth is important because it draws our attention back to preserving what the plan refers to as “legacy neighborhoods.”

By preserving legacy neighborhoods, the costs to city government do not rise as sharply over time (increased roadway maintenance, fire protection coverage, sewerage, etc.). The call for neighborhood master plans, including (and especially) in the central business district, is an opportunity for Springfield to address smaller details that are not necessarily at issue in other parts of the city.

In a similar vein, the comprehensive plan also includes direction for what it calls “special areas,” as well as proposed “opportunities.” These special areas should demand a greater focus, and the authors recognize that additional details must be worked out in accordance with some general principles set forth in the overall plan.

Also of interest to fans of downtown — the plan makes the assumption that railroad relocation will occur and that Third Street will ultimately be transformed into a greenway.

The public is welcome to comment on the plan until Thursday, November 16. Then it goes to the city council for formal adoption. You can access the plan (and other relevant documents) at www.springfield.il.us/Businesses/2037CompPlan.aspx.

This post was written by Steven Simpson Black, who runs his own small business while earning a planning degree from UIS.

Third Street Rail Closures Start Oct. 25

Starting Wednesday, five downtown Union Pacific Railroad crossings will be closed permanently: Union Street, Jackson Street, Canedy Street, Allen Street, and Cedar Street. These closures are the next step to acquire a “Quiet Zone” designation along the 3rd Street Corridor.

The five locations will have temporary barricades while Union Pacific completes work associated with the crossing closures and then the City of Springfield will have 60 days to install the permanent barricades.

Detours are marked to avoid the closed crossings. Alternative routes include the underpasses at Dodge Street and at Capitol Avenue along with the Stanford Avenue overpass.

Motorists who disregard the “Road Closed” and “Do Not Enter” signs are subject to a $250 fine.

What is a Quiet Zone?

County Report Gives Thumbs Up to DSI Work

Sangamon County hired The Development Consortium to analyze our area’s regional economic development efforts and the report was released last night. The consultants give DSI’s new direction a big thumbs up on Page 13.

Some downtown-centric highlights:

  • DSI has been primarily operating in a vacuum, mostly not of its own creation. As a needed placemaking organization, it needs to be part of the overall regional economic development strategy and included as a partner.
  • More than 300 current State of Illinois employees are enrolled in UIS programs, and other plans are under consideration of development in order to more fully integrate the campus into the fabric of the community. To the extent that UIS can expand its presence into the downtown areas of Springfield, prime opportunities for dynamic partnerships with business and government can more easily happen, with the additional economic impacts of having students learning, working and living in the City’s core. It would be a real game changer for the landscape and vitality of downtown Springfield.
  • Placemaking and quality of life improvements needed to attract and retain younger workers and recent graduates, and, really, people in all stages of life, need to be planned for, funded and executed, especially in the downtown, as a long-term strategy with representatives from all facets of life represented in the discussion along the way. Support organizations such as Downtown Springfield, Inc. that are working on this. Quality of place is important to new and long-term residents and visitors alike.

Read the whole report on the SJ-R website>

Our Spooky Downtown

On October 28, downtown is bursting with Halloween goodness, practically from dawn to dusk!

All Day Long: Spooky Rock Hunt!

Springfield Vintage and #SpringfieldILrocks have teamed up for a massive downtown rock hunt! You can paint some rocks like artist Felicia Olin did (see left) and drop them off at Springfield Vintage before October 28 and they will be hidden around downtown — or you can simply be on the hunt that day for super cool, collectible rocks! Email Springfield Vintage for more information>

9:30 – Noon: Halloween at the Market

This festive event wraps up the 2017 market season. Local organizations and businesses combine efforts to create FREE, fun-filled activities for the whole family, including children and dog costume contests, hands-on activities (build your own spiderweb with the Kidzeum!), and special guests. Prizes will be awarded to 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in all four categories.

Noon to 4 pm: Halloween Family Carnival at the Hoogland

This family-friendly carnival has grown BIGGER this year and will feature carnival booths with prizes and candy, performances of your favorite Halloween songs by the Hoogland Kids, Teens and Juniors and everyone is dressed up in their most elaborate costumes! If you are feeling in a spooky mood, dare to venture through their haunted house! They also have a new haunted house for younger children where little ones can walk through Charlie Brown’s Pumpkin Patch. Parents can find a great place to relax and have a fall beverage while the children experience Minny Mouse’s Tea Party, Willy Gaston’s Dart Throw, and the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

4:30 – 6:30 pm: Shop Spooky Specials

Downtown businesses are getting in on the Halloween fun, too! They’ll be staying open later on this particular Saturday with treats, fun and specials — and not many tricks:

Augie’s Front Burner – Stop by for candy!
Cold Stone Creamery – Stop by for candy!
Daisy Jane’s – Make and Take Halloween crafts!
Milk & Honey Fresh Market – Stop by for candy!
Murphy’s Loft – Stop by for candy, free Halloween koozies & 10% off!
Recycled Records – Stop by for candy & Used CD’s/DVD’s are buy 2 get 1 free!
The Roost – Dare for a spooky walk-through!
SAA Collective in the Hoogland – Free gift to costumed visitors (while supplies last)!
Springfield Vintage – They’ll pay your sales tax!
Studio on 6th – Stop by for candy; enjoy a free gift with purchase; and make your mark on the pumpkin!
Udder Hut – Special is Wormy Froyo! Plus… Fish for Apples
Urban Sassafras – crafts & cookies for kiddos!
Wild Rose – Free Face Painting and a tasty treat!
Wyndham Lobby – Stop by for candy and warm apple cider!
Z Bistro – Special dinner is Spaghetti Brains with Eyeballs! Plus… Fish for Apples
411 Bar & Grill – Stop by for candy!

4:30 – 6:30 pm: Annual Halloween Safety Event

Please join the Springfield Police and Fire Departments at Springfield Fire Station #1 at 825 E. Capitol Street
Learn great Safety tips for Halloween
Have a ghoulishly good time Trunk or Treating
Climb and explore rescue vehicles
Meet McGruff the Dog
Enjoy face painting and other children’s activities
Get .99 cent kids meal coupons from Sonic
Questions? Call 217-.788-8360 ext. 4238

5:30 – 7:30 pm: Trick or Treat at the Old State Capitol

The Illinois Executive Mansion Association can’t host the Governor’s popular event at the Mansion this year because of renovations, so they’re inviting Children Pre-K through 5th grade to this FREE event for Halloween treats at the Old State Capitol.

7 – 8 pm: Goosebumps Concert at First Presbyterian

The downtown church with the big red door is hosting their annual Goosebumps concert! Alongside the organ classics typically enjoyed during the Halloween season, the concert will also feature a variety of vocal pieces, dramatic reading, and interpretive performance art. You’re invited to dress for the concert — all in black, all in white, in costume — in order to participate more fully in the experience. The concert itself is free: the church will gladly accept donations to benefit hurricane relief.

7:30 pm – 8:30 pm: First Annual Halloween Parade to benefit The Parent Place

Families will line 5th and 6th Streets around the Old State Capitol as floats, children and other special Halloween guests parade the streets in this lighted evening parade! Contact 753-8730 to enter.

8 pm: Rocky Horror Picture Show

It’s the return of The Rocky Horror Show brought to you by ADHD Productions in association with the Hoogland Center for the Arts, and Club Station House. This weekend marks the eighth year of the the live production at the Hoogland!

8 pm: Halloween Dreams, a Spooktacular Musical Review

This enchanting musical revue at the Legacy Theater brings the magic of Halloween to the stage, celebrating the holiday of imagination.
On the occasion of its 13th Anniversary, the show rematerializes with a cauldron full of new songs, as well as all the favorites audiences have come to love: “Old Black Magic,” “Stormy Weather” “Moondance” and “Monster Mash.” These songs, brewed together with puppetry, silliness and 50 pounds of candy, create a delightful treat for the whole family!

9 pm – ?: Zombie Walk

Redbird Electric is hosting a Zombie Walk. More details coming…..

And….don’t ever forget Lincoln’s Ghost Walk!

Check our calendar for other downtown Halloween events that don’t fall on October 28.

How About a Tourist Pop Up on the Plaza?

This week’s SJR story about the City’s interest in potentially moving Visit Springfield, our Convention & Visitors Bureau to a location around the Old State Capitol Plaza, got us thinking about what we’d experienced in other cities this summer. During Springfield’s tough budget times, if a better lease can’t be found, a compromise solution might be to host a visitors’ stand on the Old State Capitol next summer.

Here are what some other cities have done for highly trafficked areas:

Our Farmers Market is Epicenter of Eat Local Challenge

September is one of the most abundant months of the year for Illinois farmers, featuring warm season crops like tomatoes and melons alongside cool weather crops like lettuce, apples, and winter squash.

However, the return of school session, cooling temperatures, and an increasing disconnect between shoppers and seasonality have all led to a drop off in farmers market attendance during this month. The resulting decline in sales increases food waste and weakens the economic viability of small farms before entering their slower winter months.

“There is such a wide variety of products this time of year,” says Molly Gleason of the Illinois Stewardship Alliance (ISA has managed the Market on behalf of DSI for the past two years), “and because the harvest is so plentiful in September, it’s also one of the most affordable times to shop locally. Plus there’s all kinds of varieties and flavors that you won’t find in the grocery store, like baby fairytale eggplants and green striped zebra tomatoes. It’s really one of the best months to shop at your farmers market.”

The Eat Local Challenge, organized by ISA in partnership with farmers markets across central Illinois, aims to combat the annual slump in sales that farmers experience during the month of September by encouraging shoppers to pledge to buy locally.

All you have to do to participate in the Eat Local Challenge campaign is to pledge to spend $20 each week on locally grown food. Last year, the first year of the campaign, over 250 people took the Challenge across Central Illinois. This year ISA hopes to have 500 participants, which would mean at least $40,000 in sales of locally-grown food for the Central Illinois region.

Did you realize: if even half of the shoppers just at our Market participated, we would have over 2000 participants this year??

Registration for the Eat Local Challenge will open THIS SATURDAY during National Farmers Market Week. You can register in person by visiting the Market Booth at 4th and Adams or any Central Illinois residents can sign up online at www.buyfreshbuylocalcentralillinois.org.

The first 250 participants will receive a free, USA made, farmers market tote bag filled with more information on shopping locally—available at the Market in September. Additionally, all Challenge participants will be subscribed to a weekly e-newsletter featuring seasonal recipes, farmers market meal plans, storage and food preservation tips, and updates on local food events going on throughout the region.

“September isn’t the winding down of the farm, it’s the full throttle peak season for us. We have tended our land and crops for six months getting to our grand finale and it’s disappointing when we have no one show up for our end of the year extravaganza,” says Jacque Suttill-Simpson of Suttill’s Gardens, a long-time Market vendor. “We farmers experience the ‘slump’ right when our best is yet to come.”

In addition to our Old Capitol Farmers Market, other participating markets include ones in Downtown Bloomington, Downs Village, Urbana, Champaign, the Peoria Riverfront, and Streator.

Emily and Chef Corey from Long Nine Junction are one of four chef teams providing a course at the Street Dinner.

In addition to taking the Eat Local Challenge, how else can you support the Old Capitol Farmers Market and the farmers who sell their goods every week? 

Thursday, September 7: Downtown Springfield Inc. Friends of the Market Street Dinner

Thursday, September 14: Slow Food Springfield Tour of Petersburg Poultry Processing

Thursday, September 21: Local Flavors Dinner at Engrained Brewing Company

Sunday, September 24: Illinois Stewardship Alliance Annual Harvest Celebration

Downtown Fashion Runway Show Highlights Our Comeback

Downtown Springfield Inc. and President Abraham Lincoln Springfield – a Doubletree by Hilton Hotel proudly invite local fashionistas of all ages and styles to a one-stop trunk show and runway experience featuring trendy fashions from downtown shops, timed perfectly for fall shopping sprees. Trendy, classic, casual, eclectic — you can find it all. Women’s, men’s, kid’s — in the last few years, our stores have dialed up their fashion options for you and the price points are divine.

Thursday, August 24, 2017
5-6 pm Red Carpet (for you!), Trunk Show, Cocktails
6-8 pm Runway Show & Silent Auction

Tickets are now available at the door for $35.

“We’re expecting to surprise a few people who haven’t shopped downtown for a while,” said Lisa Clemmons Stott, DSI Executive Director. “The downtown merchants are really excited to show their new lines of clothing and they’ve had a great time working together to make the night a memorable one.”

In 2012, the CLUE Group did a market study of downtown Springfield for us and reported that we had a serious lack of women’s fashion choices. Our entrepreneurs responded to the demand, and today you can see many trendy ensembles in the store windows downtown. Plus you get the curation and customer service that only a downtown shop can provide. That’s why we’re hosting a fun night of downtown fashion to highlight what you may not even realize is available in the district. Say you’ll be there on Facebook>

Tickets are $30 online and $35 at the door with proceeds benefiting DSI in their work to revitalize downtown and Prairie Center Against Sexual Assault, a downtown non-profit working to heal the trauma of sexual assault. This is the first year that PCASA has teamed up with DSI on the Dare to be Different Fashion Show. The ticket price includes admissions and appetizers. A frozen cocktail bar (with options for non-alcoholic versions) and other items will be available for purchase. Our guide for the night is Troy Armstrong, chosen by SJR Readers in both 2016 and 2017 as Best DJ.

In addition to the Trunk Show & Silent Auction, more than 70 looks will be curated for the runway by these 13 downtown area businesses featuring Springfield models of all ages, shapes and sizes:

Fashion Looks Provided By:
Daisy Jane's
Iris & Ivy
Itty Bitty Fashion Truck
Jim Herron Ltd.
Murphy's Loft
Recycled Records
The Roost
Springfield Vintage
Studio on Sixth
Sumac Shop at Dana Thomas House
What the Shirt
Wild Rose
Urban Sassafras
 We also cannot thank the event committee enough: Jane Mosey-Nicoletta, Jean Bruner-Jachino, Shelley Vaughan, Linda Renehan, Robert Sabin, Troy Armstrong, Alicia Bibb, Krissy Olsen and Tricia Schlosser.