Friday, November 17, 2006

Lebo Light Up Night

Joe Polk has been tearing up the Lebo blogosphere these last few weeks; I've been working and traveling and just not very inspired to post here. But here's a note, in partial atonement:

Last night, my daughter and I wandered up and down Washington Road during Mt. Lebanon's Light Up Night, and I'm glad that we braved the damp to do it. Thanks to the performers and the merchants and the neighbors and the crossing guards -- especially thanks to the crossing guards! -- who braved the weather and made the evening fun for all. I heard music at Planet Art (and I finally got to meet Linda in person!) and at Aldo's. Both shops were jammed with people. There was a chocolate fountain in one of the storefronts near Molly Brannigan's -- sorry, I forget which one. Uptown Coffee was full. The tree in Clearview Common looked festive, and it, too, was surrounded by people, and the Fire Department anchored the intersection (thanks to them, too! Joe, were you there?).

It still feels too early for Christmas (please -- if someone knows the programming director at 3WS radio, tell the station to hold off with the Christmas music until after Thanksgiving!), but last night was a great start to the local holiday season. Kudos to everyone.
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Blogger Planet Art's Linda said...

It was great to finally meet you. We were all hoping that you would win the in-store raffle for the $50.00 Gift Certificate so that you would be forced to buy some art!
But as it worked out the guitarist from "Morningside" won. It ws well deserved, they were great!
Now I'll get to work on First Night. Anyone have any ideas?

November 17, 2006 12:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. It was great. The singing/dancing was very festive, along with the tree lighting.

Those traffic cops made their money last night. Great job.

November 17, 2006 12:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Ok… I never blog anything because with running my own business, a new baby and well the way life goes-- I don't have a lot of time...but I read what you said about the BID a few days ago and then I read your comments about LUN today. I wanted to point out some things based on your two posts--you made some negative comments about the BID, yet raved about the success of LUN so I felt I needed to say something—To start, I’m thrilled you enjoyed yourself at LUN and that your daughter did as well—as a small business owner I try very hard to make the event a success spending much time and money to insure that the community has a great time and hey maybe even come in my store and buy something too —however I wanted to make a point…to continue to have fun, successful LUN’s that benefit the community as well as the businesses we need a BID. It is near impossible to truly fund and market events like LUN and First Friday without the help of something like the BID. Additionally, there are dozens of other events that could be done with the help of the BID but cannot be done without it. I have heard many business owners with all kinds of ideas for events from “adult only” events to art shows to wine tastings you name it--but without the organization and support of something like the BID it just can't happen. These events are good for everyone--not just us business owners, but the community as a whole—thereby making the property value increase as well thus benefiting property owners. These fun yearly events are such a fantastic way to bring the community together and showcase our great town to people who live elsewhere. You enjoyed the event last night—brought you out in the rain—so just think what we could do with more money and better marketing and better organization!

I should also mention that this year starting in early spring I began handing out a flyer which laid out the First Friday/Sidewalk Saturday events taking place throughout the summer to everyone that walked in my door. I could not believe the level of interest and excitement. People from Peters Township, Presto, Upper St. Clair, Cranberry, Greentree Bethel Park all thrilled to know such things existed—so jealous that they didn’t have a “Mainstreet USA” where they live. "How fun--what a great idea--we'll be back for sure" was a common statement made. If we had the BID in place we could reach even more people and could really turn the events into something spectacular. I could go on and on—but at the moment I don’t have a ton of time.

I also want to mention that I frequently have people in my store who tell me how thrilled they are that Washington Road is "revitalizing"--I have many men and women who bring in visitors from out of town and from other areas of Pittsburgh to check out the Uptown area. I think the residents of this area are proud of Mt. Lebanon and that they too want to see the businesses thrive and grow and they want to see more successful events like First Friday where they can celebrate with friends and family their community.

Also, wanted to point out that you mentioned that enrollment in the BPA is low and since I just joined last year I should tell you that it was clear to me immediately that the reason the enrollment was low was because first off there is poor organization (which a BID also solves) and there are some “personality” issues with a few business owners who just don’t want to get along—which may also be solved by a BID— but more than likely well…maybe some people will just never get along! I’m new to the scene and well…a bit younger than a lot of the others… so maybe I just haven’t lived long enough to be so stubborn and difficult to get along with—who knows.

I have been a member of the BPA now for one year and during that year I have come to learn that the BPA can only do so much. The members who take an active interest in their businesses are giving 100% of their time and effort and frequently feel frustrated that they cannot do more. There is also a lot of complaining about what “needs to be done” by people who don’t step up to the plate and DO anything—again more personality issues I guess. I know myself that I felt frustrated when I was coming up with all of these great things I wanted to do for the FF events that would make them even better BUT cost more money than the BPA had! The only reason I believe the BPA isn’t working to its full potential is because there is not enough organization and cooperation among the people who’d make it up--something I think the BID will most definitely fix. (maybe I’m too young and naïve to think everyone will just get along and work together)

Oh and also…as far as the BID scaring away potential new businesses—not a chance. I cannot tell you how many people come into my store on a weekly basis looking for an open store front on Washington Road. There is NO doubt in my mind that even with higher rent payments (which would probably be what happens) that these property owners will be able to find tenants. To be specific, when I was looking to open my store 1 year ago I lost out to 3 different people who were also looking at the same spaces--I was lucky to get the space I got and have had 2 people in the last year approach me in my store to tell me that they too were vying for that same space and that I beat them to the punch. So I must reiterate that I do not believe for one second that these property owners will have any trouble finding tenants.

Sorry this is kind of rambling…I’m typing while trying to keep my daughter out of trouble. I just had to write though because I wanted you to see that things like LUN which are fantastic events don’t just happen out of thin air! ~working mother/owner of Ona Boutique

Check out these sites…here (on a bit of a larger scale) is what our hope for Lebo is!!!!

November 17, 2006 2:21 PM  
Blogger Mike Madison said...

Thanks for the comments. I think (hope) that you're referring to a BID-related post from a year ago; I haven't written anything about BIDs in a long time.

That aside, a couple of reactions:

One, I'm all for Washington Road revitalization and progress. My post from a year ago was BID-skepticism, not BID-opposition.

Two, I'm concerned -- as you are -- about what economists call a "free rider" problem. Some merchants participate and work hard on promotion; all merchants reap the benefits.

The question is whether a BID is a good and fair solution to that free rider problem. You make the case that it is. I wonder whether there are other ways for you and your fellow hard-working small business owners (hi Linda; hi Melanie and Rich; hi Joe, to name three that I'm acquainted with now) to benefit personally in proportion to the work that they put it.

There are a couple of ways to look at this: One is equity -- no one should benefit if they don't put in the effort themselves. That's an understandable starting point. Two is compensation -- those of you who put in hard work should get fairly compensated for that extra effort. This version is also understandable, but it is more accepting than the first version that there will be free riders out there. In this second version, as long as you make a decent profit, you might not care that free riders profit, too.

I don't know whether you are in Camp One or Camp Two or somewhere in between. I do know that even if you think that a BID is a good idea, there are other non-BID-related things at work that help you out -- in either Camp. For example: I know from my own experience that certain Washington Road businesses contribute to and work hard to support LUN and FF and the Saturday morning thing (sorry -- I can't bring up the name). I know that some don't. When I'm uptown, I make a point to stop in a buy things at some shops -- and not others. Want to know why I mention Aldo Coffee from time to time? It's not just because the coffee is fabulous and the service is delightful. It's Because Melanie and Rich have made an impressive effort to promote Uptown Mt. Lebanon since they opened that store, and Uptown Coffee -- which also sells good coffee -- has not kept up. Nothing against the hardworking folks at UC, whoever they are, but IMHO, Aldo's is kicking their butt.

November 17, 2006 2:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dream of the day when they build a bypass road around uptown mt lebanon. Imagine. It is possible.

Then it truly could be a Main Street USA instead of a road where 20,000 cars a day try to pass through the 10 street lights as quickly as they can.

Sometimes it is excrutiating just trying to get in and out of there. However, last night it was easy. Kudos to those cops.

November 17, 2006 2:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After reading about Mt. Lebanon on Popcity, I came across your blog and have been reading your posts with interest.

We are being relocated to Pittsburgh from the suburban Philadelphia area and will be looking for a place to live. Mt. Lebanon seems like a vibrant and growing place to raise a family (we have three children from elementary school on up). It seems like you have a wonderful sense of community there with various appealing activities like Light Up Night.

Thanks for the information.

November 17, 2006 7:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Christmas Tree lighting was nice, but does anyone else think the Christmas Tree should be back on Washington Road in front of the old "Cyclops" building. Clearview Commons is a nice park, but it is a terrible place for the Christmas Tree.

1. The tree cannot be seen from Washington Road. It was always very visible from the corner of Washington Road and Cedar Blvd.

2. Prior to the Christmas Tree Lighting, only a small # of people could view the entertainment. Most people were not even aware that children were performing under the white tent.

3. The many stairs and different levels of Clearview Commons make it difficult to navigate strollers and wheelchairs.

4. The many different levels make it difficult for people to walk. One child twisted their ankle.

5. Santa's arrival was always much more exciting when he could be viewed by all as he rode down Washington Road.

*Just some thoughts! Hope all have a great Thanksgiving!

November 19, 2006 7:41 AM  

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