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Trojan Power

Small-business owners start an informal group to promote Troy

by Erin Pihlaja on August 1, 2013 · 2 comments


Whether they will decide on being called the Downtown Troy Restaurant and Retail Committee or Council, a group of business owners, residents, and others interested in promoting downtown Troy are making plans to improve the already-much-talked about business district.

On July 17, the group met for the third time to discuss details. The mission statement on the itinerary read, “To cross promote our businesses, and develop strategies to market Troy as a premier shopping destination, throughout the Capital Region and beyond.”

“I’m open on Sunday, and people always ask me, ‘Why is nobody else open?’ ” said Debra Lockrow, owner of the ArtCentric Gallery (266 River St.) in Troy. She, and others, would like to see an extension of operating hours for businesses, for the weekend at the very least. Currently, many businesses close at 6 PM, and many are closed on Sundays.

Lockrow has lived in downtown Troy for five years and owned a small business here, in various locations, for four. During that time she has served on the board for the Downtown Business Improvement District, and said that she has seen“progression” in Troy’s businesses. Still, Lockrow feels there is room for improvement, not only in the consistency of business hours in the district but in the way that Troy is marketed.

“There are some people who don’t understand the BID, or don’t have information, or don’t understand how much hard work goes into it, people who are hesitant,” she said. “I thought, if we had a council that communicated and got along like neighbors, it would allow us to plan stuff and have a voice.”

Lockrow was joined by like-minded business owner Vic Christopher of the Charles F. Lucas Confectionery & Wine Bar (12 2nd St.), in the creation of a new business improvement organization, a separate entity but one that both said has the support of both the BID and the city.

“We’re open to prospective business owners, the public, business owners—we’re open to anyone period,” said Christopher. Currently, the group is meeting, at the wine bar that he owns with his wife, at 9 AM on the third Wednesday of each month.

“This is a group of people who want to get together and discuss things. Is it officially sanctioned? Who cares. What’s the difference,” he said. The group is a grassroots effort, he added, and the organic feel of the structure benefits an open dialogue of any topic. But make no mistake, Christopher said, the group is all business.

“A rising tide raises all ships,” he said. “We really believe that. This is about taking the business seriously. [Some see] business as a hobby. We want the Troy shopping district recognized by everyone in the Capital District every night of the week. You’ve got to build it in small steps for consistency.”

In addition to addressing some of the complaints the business owners field from their customers in regard to the downtown, the group is dedicated to focusing on positive promotion of the area. At the last meeting, they decided to create a video contest open to the public, called How Do You Enjoy Troy?

Christopher said that Elizabeth Young, executive director of the BID, contacted Tech Valley Center of Gravity, a “makerspace” in Troy, to make a mobile video booth to capture footage of people on the streets answering that question. The booth will be ready to roll out for Troy Night Out on Aug. 30. Eventually, a call for other submissions will be made and an official contest will ensue. Christopher said that the grand prize winner will get a “Troycation,” a prize package that may include a hotel stay in Troy, dinner, shopping certificates, and a spa treatment—all options that downtown Troy offers.

“I don’t want to lose this momentum,” said Lockrow. “I want to grab onto that and multiply the effect.” She added that acting as neighbors and a community is the key to achieving success. “We are better together.”