We have all of these people at the beach but do they go downtown? Probably not so much. There is such a long stretch from the beach to the House of Flavors I doubt they are going to walk it, and it’s just not that interesting of a walk along Ludington Avenue (Loomis is better) so how do you draw them in and bring them along?
The one thing that comes to mind is bike rentals at the beach that come with coupons or discount packs to encourage them to come into town and visit downtown merchants. What are you selling to the tourists? As a community what are we selling to them? If we are going to sell them an experience and a week filled with memories that makes them want to spend money and also to come back can we really rely on luck or fate that they will come into your shop on their own or should we direct their experiences by the way we lay out the community and in the way we offer goods services and events?
On the Bike rentals, here is another type of business that is strictly seasonal but you want to make it easy for the person doing it to succeed and make enough money to make it worth their time to do it and to come back every year. Again, I’d say a small percentage of sales to be able to use a corner of the parking lot at the end of Ludington Avenue to put a small shack like the coffee shack at Save a Lots lot and racks for the bikes so they can be secured at night.
The service, having it there is more important than what the City might realize in the vendor income.
Back to directing the experience of Ludington. One of the biggest pet peeves I have is the cost of being at most tourist trap type of locales, I think the question is how do you get the people on the beach downtown to spend some money, have some fun and stay within their budget? So just in kicking around the coupon book that comes with the bike rental you get a 50 cent cone at the House of Flavors, You get two free arcade games plays at Backstage Hobbies and Games, a good price on something tasty at Best Choice Markets, a buy one get one coffee at Roldencia’s (sp?) a special fudge or candy item at Kilwins.
Move them off from the beach and into the stores by a coordinated marketing effort. The main idea in my mind is that you get them to walk through the doors when they might have otherwise left the beach and gone to the campground without having gone anywhere else.