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Staunton Downtown Development Association to share consumer survey data

staunton downtown development associationThe Staunton Downtown Development Association, in partnership with several partnering organizations, distributed a survey to over 30,000 community emails during the month of October 2016.

The survey was designed to create a customer profile and give the surrounding community a chance to weigh in on what they like and don’t like about Downtown Staunton.

Downtown Staunton is in a stage of development where our retail business mix has shifted from a mature, hobbyist or part time and full time retailer to a younger generation of full time independent retailers with solid conceptual design, merchandising and business planning who rely on their business for their income.  In 2015-2016 alone, we opened 28 new business, 14 of which are storefronts/retail and 12 established businesses in the District have sold to new owners. For the third year, Downtown Staunton was voted “Best Shopping District in the Shenandoah Valley” byVirginia Living magazine.

“Our business mix is moving away from the traditional gift shop and trending towards fair trade and American made concepts.  There is more depth in the merchandising with a more strategic selection of like goods, making the store concepts more desirable and enticing for the shopper,” says Julie Markowitz, Executive Director of the SDDA.

While we can make an educated guess about what the community needs to make Downtown shopping more desirable and define how to connect with the surrounding community, it is most effective to design and implement a Consumer Survey to determine and measure the amount of interest in Downtown, consumer awareness and needs, consumer profiles, etc.  The SDDA partnered with the Staunton Augusta YMCA, the Great Augusta Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the United Way to

e-distribute the survey link and incentivized participation by giving away five $100 Downtown Gift Cards.  Additionally, the SDDA outreached to existing downtown shoppers by making the survey url available at the Downtown stores.

The survey instrument development began in February 2015, when focus group meetings were held containing a mix of community leaders, Downtown supporters, stakeholders, Mary Baldwin University students and staff, and local residents.  Tripp Muldrow of Arnette Muldrow assisted with the final editing of the survey and it was distributed in October 2016.  We received 871 responses and the data from those responses has been assembled for public consumption and input.

A public meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 9, 2017 at 8AM in the City Council Chambers at City Hall. The meeting is free and the community is welcome to attend.

The survey questions will determine the shopper demographics, shopping habits, and Downtown perceptions. The survey results will direct the specifics of SDDA strategic work planning by identifying what is important to the community and by combining the input from an SDDA stakeholder survey implemented in May 2015.

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