Explaining the success her city and organization have found, Seymour Main Street Executive Director Becky Schepman speaks to the annual meeting of Main Street Greencastle Wednesday at the Putnam Inn. Banner Graphic/Jared Jernagan
Explaining the success her city and organization have found, Seymour Main Street Executive Director Becky Schepman speaks to the annual meeting of Main Street Greencastle Wednesday at the Putnam Inn. Banner Graphic/Jared Jernagan
There’s no denying the success that Main Street Greencastle has found with its First Friday events over the last several years.

Add to this downtown holiday decorations, a growing membership and a healthy enough budget to hire a paid staff member in consultant Mike Richmond of Infiniti Marketing, and things are looking pretty good for an organization that was all but defunct a few years ago.

There’s always room for growth, though, and sometimes looking for examples from outside can aid in such efforts.

That was the goal for the Main Street annual meeting Wednesday morning that featured a short presentation from Becky Schepman, executive director of Seymour Main Street.

“I thought she would be good to show what they’ve put in place and where we want to be in a year or two,” Richmond said.

Schepman opened her comments by complimenting Greencastle and saying this was her first visit to the city, though she’s been to C-Bar-C in Cloverdale several times for her daughter’s rodeo events.

She pointed out that Seymour is about twice the size of Greencastle but lacks certain advantages that cities of its size might enjoy.

“We don’t have a square or a river or a college or a courthouse,” Schepman said. “So we have to do a little more recruiting to get businesses downtown.”

Such recruiting is to a 10-block downtown historic district that Seymour Main Street encompasses. While recruiting businesses is the first step, getting customers downtown is the challenge when it comes to retaining businesses.

“The problem was, everybody went out Highway 50 to get to the big box stores,” Schepman said. “We had to get people downtown. We planned a lot of events just getting people used to going downtown and getting used to parking in the lots.”

Indeed, in attracting modern shoppers, the challenge is sometimes convincing them that not every retailer has several hundred parking spaces out front, and that’s OK.

A rather inexpensive solution to this for Seymour involved signs near their public parking lots and various spots around downtown, informing pedestrians of how many minutes they were from certain destinations.

With the signs in place, they began a #WalkSeymour social media campaign, encouraging residents to get out downtown and take their pictures with the directional signs.

The organization also printed cards, titled simply “Hey, Seymour,” that promote downtown events from March through November, with a downtown map on the reverse side.

Members of Main Street of at least the $100 level are featured on both the map and the Main Street website.

The cards are then distributed to the businesses, local hotels and even the concession stands of local baseball and softball parks that host tournaments throughout the warm weather months.

Besides getting people downtown, the bigger goal is to get them through the doors of members businesses, spending money.

That’s why when they host things such as First Thursdays, Downtown Shop Around, Downtown Chalk Around and their Ghouls and Goblets (of beer and wine) events, specific businesses are promoted as part of the events.

Also, after events, surveys are sent out to the businesses to see if Main Street activities actually got more customers through their doors.

Of course, the reason many people know Seymour is it is the “Small Town” of one of John Mellencamp’s most beloved songs. With that in mind, Main Street is striving to make downtown Seymour synonymous with music, with Schepman saying they strive to have live music somewhere downtown every day.

Another big goal of any such organization is to increase fundraising to promote the growth of downtown and the member businesses. As Schepman starts her third year at the helm, Seymour Main Street is kicking off a membership campaign that should help bring more members into the organization.

Other fundraising efforts include a donor campaign through the mail as well as a Dancing with the Stars event.

Looking at the future of Main Street Greencastle, leaders are hopeful that Greencastle can mimic the success of the southern Indiana city.

“I was excited to see all the things they have going on in Seymour,” Main Street President Kristin Clary said.

Looking to the rest of 2019, Clary said she can see one area she would specifically like to improve.

“One area we could probably work better on is volunteerism,” Clary said. “We could probably use a few more hands on deck when we have these events.”

The first big Main Street Greencastle event of 2019 is just around the corner with First Fridays set to kick off on Friday, April 5.
© 2019 Greencastle Banner-Graphic