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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : latest news : latest news September 15, 2014


10/10/2013 6:00:00 AM
BOOST OR BUST?
Courthouse plaza fairs bolster some downtown businesses but hurt others
Matt Hinshaw/The Daily CourierChristina Alizy, owner of Christina’z Boutique at Goldwaters in downtown Prescott, says the courthouse plaza arts and craft fairs (below) take business away from her store.
Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier
Christina Alizy, owner of Christina’z Boutique at Goldwaters in downtown Prescott, says the courthouse plaza arts and craft fairs (below) take business away from her store.
County supervisors renew plaza deal with PDP
By TAMARA SONE

The Daily Courier

tsone@prescottaz.com



PRESCOTT - The Yavapai County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 Monday to continue with an agreement between the county and the Prescott Downtown Partnership (PDP) for the management and coordination of activities and events that take place on the courthouse plaza.

The county has contracted with the PDP for more than 10 years in running the events.

"The cooperation of the PDP has been phenomenal," Supervisor Craig Brown said. "There are some other issues that have popped up, but we will address those."

According to a presentation by PDP director Kendall Jaspers, the plaza had 118 days filled with events, drawing more than 150,000 people to the city's downtown.

"It was a busy summer," Jaspers said. "We are seeing larger events and we are getting fewer small events like weddings and family gatherings. The demand is high."

Fees collected from event participants helped raise $65,000 for the PDP.

Also during the meeting, county Emergency Management Coordinator Denny Foulk presented certificates and plaques to numerous people that helped with the Doce and Yarnell Hill wildfires.

"It is in times like these we find our strengths and in times like these we rise to the occasion," Foulk said. "Your unwavering devotion to the county and people has not gone unnoticed."

The cities of Prescott and Prescott Valley, County Flood Control, County Development Services, and the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office were some of the organizations Foulk recognized during the presentation.

Supervisors turned the tables on Foulk during the meeting and presented him with a certificate and plaque for his "tremendous work during the fires."

"We survived the catastrophe very well. We are rebuilding very well, but the humble leadership of Denny Foulk is what brought us through that," Supervisor Chip Davis said. "I think Denny has many attributes many people aren't aware of because he is such a humble person."

In other business, the supervisors:

• Proclaimed Oct. 25 as the "Million Misfit Sock March Day" and Oct.21-25 as Anti-bullying Week.

• Accepted, 5-0, the appointment of George E. Lee to the Planning and Zoning Commission for District 1 for a term running from Oct. 7 to Feb. 1, 2015.

• Approved, 5-0, the request for funds to repair the floor at the High Desert Park Community Center in Black Canyon City.

• Authorized, 5-0, the purchase agreement for acquisition of easement rights from Granite Park Ranch Property Owners Association for the Williamson Valley Road North Project.



Follow Tamara Sone on Twitter @PDCtsone.


Tamara Sone
The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT - A local merchant is claiming that the city and county are allowing arts and crafts vendors to wreak havoc on her retail business.

Christina Alizy, owner of Christina'z Boutique at Goldwaters, 119 S.Cortez St., said the numerous arts and crafts fairs that take place on the courthouse plaza have hurt her business by allowing vendors to sell similar merchandise.

Alizy's boutique features a variety of women's clothing, handbags, jewelry and shoes - the same type of items she said that are often sold at the events.

"Everything sold on the square is supposed to be handmade, but it's not," Alizy said. "It is primarily resale and a lot of it is wholesale. I can't beat their prices when it's wholesale."

Alizy said her business drops more than 75 percent during the events, which typically occupy the plaza on weekends from Mother's Day into the fall.

Not one customer came into her store on the Saturday of Rodeo Week, Alizy said. During Labor Day weekend, the store pulled in $97 on Saturday.

"It's wonderful having events, but it's not great when they have vendors coming in from out of town and leaving with the money that could be made here," Alizy said.

In May, Alizy's significant other, Kevin Scheevel, met with Mayor Marlin Kuykendall, Yavapai County supervisors Craig Brown and Rowle Simmons as well as representatives from the Prescott Chamber of Commerce and Prescott Downtown Partnership regarding the handcrafted items rule.

"We've asked them and asked them and asked them to pare these shows down to within the bounds of the law and they've refused to do it," Scheevel said. "We've just asked them to follow the law, because not following the law has severely damaged our business."

"They're more worried about how the grass is treated than the survival of the merchants around the plaza," Scheevel added.



Rules are rules

According to the Yavapai County Courthouse Park Rules and Regulations dated November 2002, "All major events shall be juried by the event sponsor, both as to product and tent appearance. Sponsors shall ensure, to the best of their ability, that all products sold are handcrafted and not resale items."

"I think where the mix-up is, their definition of 'handcrafted' is different than what our application calls for," Prescott Downtown Partnership (PDP) president Joe Howard said. "Craftspeople may buy a pre-made shirt and paint on it or embroider on it or alter it."

"Just because the tag says it's from Malaysia, it doesn't mean that some woman didn't spend hours embroidering it," PDP director Kendall Jaspers added. "You've got to look at the whole thing, not just the label. The value added is more than just the shell."

The PDP handles reservations, fees and insurance for all shows, and monitors the plaza for any abuse or misuse of the grounds, Jaspers said. There are eight major shows and more than 70 single-day events that take place each year.

"The purpose of the events is to get people downtown, so that we can continue to be a thriving downtown," Howard said. "Different events help or make it harder on different merchants depending on what the event is."

According to Jaspers, last year the PDP weeded out about 10 vendors that were not complying with the handcrafted rule.

"We get fooled and people lie," Jaspers said. "The point is that we try and things have gotten better over the last six or seven years."

Both Howard and Jaspers said that the PDP has made several attempts to help Alizy and Scheevel resolve their complaint, but have been unsuccessful.

"It's hard to help them when they are saying we are breaking the law and being unethical," Howard said. "Let's get real about it. There are shows out here that are 50 and 60 years old and we've made them much better.

"We can't put people through your door. We will bring them here and if you can get them in your door, go for it," he added.

Chamber music

The Prescott Chamber of Commerce manages three of the events that take place on the plaza each year.

The chamber makes about $75,000 from the shows, chamber CEO David Mauer said. The money helps cover the chamber's operational costs.

"We have tried to keep our mix of vendors as close as possible to that requirement," Mauer said. "That isn't to say that there hasn't been a merchant or two that's been in there with some resale materials."

According to Mauer, the chamber sent letters to about a dozen vendors who had sold resale merchandise during the events, asking them to make a better effort to sell only handcrafted items.

The groups hosting the shows are scheduled to meet to discuss the current regulations and look at possible changes or rewrites, Maurer said.

"If there are any changes, the four groups that put on the arts and crafts shows will need to reflect those starting next year," Mauer said.



Different viewpoints

Several retailers located around the plaza said the events don't pose a threat to their business.

"They bring people to town," said Connie LeFebvre, owner of Le Febvre's. "I know that some merchants complain, but I have nothing negative to say about the events.

Le Febvre's store at 101 E. Gurley St. is on the same block as Alizy's boutique.

"It's up to them to figure out how to get them in their store; you have to sell yourself," Le Febvre added.

For the Black Arrow Indian Art store, 124 W. Gurley St., the events can be a hit or miss for business.

"It depends on the event that's going on and the weather," store associate Christine Flick said. "Sometimes it brings people in and sometimes there is so much awesome activity out there that we are on the backburner. But any activity out there is good for business."

And while visitors to the area may not come in on that particular day, often times they return to check out the store, Flick said.

"It took a little while, but I think we've finally reached the point that downtown business owners don't feel that the events are competing with their full-time business," Supervisor Chip Davis said.



Follow Tamara Sone on Twitter @PDCtsone.




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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, October 12, 2013
Article comment by: Gus Patrick

Remember when the JC's used to "arrest" people on the square if they were not wearing any southwestern attire?

Remember when the VFW and American Legion used to put flags up along the streets downtown (they hung off the parking meters)?

Remember the water fights that used to pit neighbor against neighbor in good clean fun?

Know what stopped every single one of those events here in "Everybody's Hometown"?

If you guessed downtown businesses, you would be a winner!


Posted: Friday, October 11, 2013
Article comment by: Susie Hill

Having sales during these events might help, otherwise, lower your prices altogether.

Posted: Friday, October 11, 2013
Article comment by: Cheese with that whine?

These things bring in tons of sales tax. Some shop owners like food/bars do great, and some probably do worse. I like the events, and we buy stuff occasionally. Very unique stuff. Hate the Bad Cowboy Art though. Just because her business falls off doesn't mean they should change anything.

Posted: Friday, October 11, 2013
Article comment by: MORE PLAZA EVENTS

When I first came to Prescott the downtown area was very different. It was the real "Whiskey Row". Bars, Mom and Pop restaurants, and little funky stores were everywhere. At that time downtown business owners were complaining about one thing or another. Now that the downtown area has become a mecca for art galleries and artsy-craftsy stores the downtown business owners are still complaining. A real business owner would be embracing the opportunities that these courthouse events present. Market yourself for crying out loud. The people that shop downtown are there, for the greatest part, because of the environment. They are not there to seek out your business. What needs to happen is the downtown business organizations need to bring in more entertainment. More buskers and street performers and more little push carts that offer candy, ice cream and coffee. Maybe even a little flower cart so a visitor can buy a single flower to give to their loved one. That could spark a romantic dinner out that they will surely purchase down town. A more fun atmosphere down town will bring the people. It will be up to you to market your product. Quit running your potential customers out by your petty bickering. Happy and entertained people spend more money.

Posted: Friday, October 11, 2013
Article comment by: Wait . . . .

Do you downtown business owners actually believe that if the a/c shows on the plaza were not there, that the people who attend those shows would be lined up to shop in your stores? The truth is those attendees would not even be in the area of downtown. You need to do something to attract people to your store during those shows. Put your goods out on the street and be part of the show. That might be a start.

Posted: Friday, October 11, 2013
Article comment by: H. C.

As a previous vendor - YES - we do pay tax on ALL sales at your courthouse square events.

I know for a FACT that a booth was offered to the merchants on the square for FREE. THE MERCHANTS DID NOT ACCEPT THE OFFER OF A FREE BOOTH!!!

There is competition no matter where you go. I have competition with my business. Either I bust my rear end to market, market, market, market, and show up or I need to close my business for good.

With or without the events, there are stores in Prescott (and in every city and town) that sell the same thing. Do you want your competition to shut down and go away just because you have similar products?

Put up or shut up! If you can't handle the competition, don't own a business!


Posted: Friday, October 11, 2013
Article comment by: Really? Are u kidding me ?

Ooo boo hooo! Suck it up

Posted: Friday, October 11, 2013
Article comment by: wayne lebowski

Without getting into right or wrong, when there is no event going on, down town is a ghost town, regardless of time of year.

Posted: Friday, October 11, 2013
Article comment by: DONT BLAME OTHERS

First of all we as business owners are all responsible for our success or failure.Starting a business is a risk ESPECIALLY IN PRESCOTT!I started a business in Prescott 3 years ago and couldn't make it there so I had to pack up my family and move to Phoenix to make my business work but never once did I look to blame somebody else.Theres always gonna be competition and with the economy in such bad shape people just don't have the money to spend in boutiques and such places.If it was such a lucrative business I'd start one myself.So don't blame others for a bad business plan.If anything all the extra people should help because people from Prescott aren't gonna be enough for you to make it.I lived in Prescott for 40 yrs and only bought I shirt from downtown!So keep it moving nobody has time for this nonsense!

Posted: Friday, October 11, 2013
Article comment by: Just a Local

I feel for anyone trying to make a go of it in business anywhere nowadays. I've had several of my own, worked my fanny off, and came out fairly well. The thing about all the plaza shows is: After seeing hundreds of them over the years, I've seen it all, ad nauseum. Like 3/4 of the long-time locals, we stay home or leave town when there's congestion like that downtown. I'll be danged if I'm going to pay to park in that parking garage, so if I can't park for free, I just go back home. Most of what I see for sale is worthless crap I can easily (and wisely) do without. I've been in retail enough to know how cheaply it can all be bought for, and it makes me sick to think what people will pay for most anything. My suggestion to Christine: Prescott isn't a glitzy Scottsdale-type area. Consider the local lifestyle in what you offer. Granted, we don't need another discount store (we've got way more than we can swallow), but we do need better quality, classic-designed clothing that won't look stupid next year. Whining makes people avoid you, so buck up and figure out how to shine. No one enjoys attending a pity party.

Posted: Friday, October 11, 2013
Article comment by:

The other poster is correct, all of those people walking around the court house event and I don't see two with bags.

People are not spending money like they used too and your shop is too expensive for most of us.

Christina could it be people just go to these events to get outside and exercise.



Posted: Friday, October 11, 2013
Article comment by: Prescott Gal

I have purchased several outfits from this boutique store. After reading this article I will not shop there again. When looking for a lication for the shop certainly she realized there are events in the square. I think it's ridiculous that she attacks the events afterwards. Another Scottsdale type wanting to change things to her way.

Posted: Friday, October 11, 2013
Article comment by: Pearlanne Patterson

The people that are selling their wares to the public on weekends around the square take their money and run! Local business owners should be a sense of pride to Prescott before the activities on the square. Times are tough
for everyone and I understand the bed tax for Hotels and the sales tax paid which is required for business owners. Only when our citizens come first and we have an open hand, not a closed fist will we see change. Prescott AZ. is the best place to live we are not just another tourist town. If the city is breaking the law let's find out!


Posted: Friday, October 11, 2013
Article comment by: another Whiskey Row merchant

The weekly "Scare on the Square" is of no value to the best retailers on the square. Move them all to Granite Creek Park and reclaim another downtown asset. The poor quality booths on the do nothing to drive sales for our store, they are a huge distraction and bring nothing but overcrowded streets. Those vendors are supposed to pay sales tax, but I know most do not on the cash portion of their sales.


Posted: Friday, October 11, 2013
Article comment by: To REAL AMERICAN

Now that sounds like a plan .. Move the so called art and panhandlers out to the NEW old Antelope Hills club house . There the dogs can run and doo what they do . The city can grab what $$ are made known to them and the takers of taxpayer dollars (maintenance dept.) can clean up after all have gone . Maybe then the money pit can sell a few t shirts and sticks . The Show must go on .

Posted: Friday, October 11, 2013
Article comment by: Anne Oliver

There are far too many of these "swap meet" type events every summer. The real art events and other events such as history type events, bike races, etc do draw business to the downtown area but the numerous so called craft fairs hurt most downtown businesses.

Perhaps a better location for the all the swap meet type events would be at the Amory. I used to work part time at one of the antique malls downtown and the craft fairs and swap meet type events really hurt business. Many other business owners also expressed the same loss of business.

The city needs to learn what the true definition of hand made means! It is about the money they make and nothing else. They need to limit these types of events instead of cluttering the courthouse park with them!



Posted: Friday, October 11, 2013
Article comment by: REAL AMERICAN C.P.O. USN Retired RETIRED OLD MAN TOO

Move all the functions/shows/concerts/court house lighting's/parades/car shows/artsy stuff/ to P.V..We got places they can use...

Posted: Thursday, October 10, 2013
Article comment by: sniff sniff wawawawa

Quit sniffling the square's major season is summer, if your merchandise can't compete with that either close shop or carry something else...but quit crying, the square has hosted these shows for far longer than your boutique has been in business

Posted: Thursday, October 10, 2013
Article comment by: About A-Sleep

Wow! I about fell asleep reading this article. This is news? I think I will discontinue my purchase of the Daily Courier.

Posted: Thursday, October 10, 2013
Article comment by: What a corrupt Town!

The problem here is...the voters put in "control and power" the City Council that manipulates the system.

No vested interest here...just an experienced, business owner and lifelong resident of Az now observing. Cripes!

The big winners in this particular recent incident are the hotel/motel, restaurant & bar owners, I'll get mine and to hell with the retailers and rest of you.

This Courthouse Square issue is a plague on the taxpayers. Use is for pocketing monies generated for motels/hotels/restaurants/bars.

Why would a few hotels, motels, bars, restaurants be using the Square as their private bank? Go fetch! Prescott residents are sucker bait!



Posted: Thursday, October 10, 2013
Article comment by: We Like the shows

My sister is a manager of a local bussiness on the square. They say that the shows bring more people and her sales go UP by at least 50%. We get phone calls to see what is going on on the Square. I think it is a shame that the people of prescott are complaining so much about this. The shows have already droped in size by over 50%. I thing people should be happy it is bringing more people to our town. Stop blaming everybody for your problems. The economy is the biggest problem.

Posted: Thursday, October 10, 2013
Article comment by: Preskitt local

Wow. Reading through these comments, the general sentiments I sense is are:

"This is my town, you hear? Get your gol' darn events off my courthouse square!"

and...

"The City never listens to anything we say. They don't care one gosh darn bit about us folk. All they care about is their pocketbooks."

and...

"You'd better learn to run your business, lady. It's your fault you're not making money. Don't try blamin' it on someone else."

Is this town really as selfish as it seems?


Posted: Thursday, October 10, 2013
Article comment by: What About The Sales Tax

Do these vendors charge and pay sales taxes to the city?

Posted: Thursday, October 10, 2013
Article comment by: Yvonne Eyler

Prescottonians Get Involved! It should anger every resident that not only are business owners in the downtown area not doing well, but in every area of Prescott. Look at the empty stores at the mall, Frontier Village, etc. It is a terrible reflection on the town to see all the emptily buildings. Why are we catering to out of town vendors instead of the Chamber devising ways to help build local business?! I've heard many business owners with the same complaints that Christina has--I admire her willingness to voice them publicly.

Posted: Thursday, October 10, 2013
Article comment by: 60 Grit

Oh, good grief! One of the things that makes Prescott decent is the varied events that crop up at the Courthouse plaza. I simply cannot accept that an event that drags a bunch of people into the heart of Prescott hurts more than it helps. Retail is a risky, fickle business -- and sometimes a little too much whining can be the kiss of death.


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