For brick-and-mortar businesses, the sight of massive road construction looming on the horizon generates the same kinds of impulses as an approaching hurricaine does on the Gulf Coast. Gather supplies, hunker down, and hope to survive the coming storm of dirt, concrete, and asphalt.
But not those along Nicollet Avenue in the Lyndale Neighborhood.
First, they and the Nicollet-East Harriet Business Association got the city to put signs on detour routes, directing potential shoppers right to their front doors. Now, they've launched a new campaign to fill their shops, earthmovers be damned.
A project of the Lyndale Neighborhood Association, the innovative Live Nicollet campaign takes a cue from airlines and credit card companies by offering shoppers rewards to keep coming back in the midst of a major street construction project.
“It’s nice to have something fun and exciting going on that brings the neighborhood together,” said Mary Daub, co-owner of the Lyndale Mexican restaurant El Paraiso.
The campaign is built around a point system that encourages community members to shop at the Nicollet businesses between Lake Street and 36th Street. Local residents sign up to earn points, which can be exchanged for various incentives from local businesses.
Shoppers earn points in several ways, such as “liking” the LNA on Facebook or emailing the neighborhood association receipts whenever they shop local. Each activity is worth five points, and for every five activities, residents earn a reward. Incentive prizes include a variety of gift cards, products and services from Nicollet businesses.
Approximately 40 local businesses are participating in Live Nicollet, including El Paraiso. Daub is offering a dinner for two valued at $20 to local shoppers who participate in the incentive program.
The LNA hopes to eventually see upwards of 300 residents sign up for the program, which launched in early July and will continue through the end of the year.
Live Nicollet is the result of a partnership with the City of Minneapolis. The campaign was developed by the LNA this spring. The neighborhood association worked closely with local businesses to create shared goals and to emphasize the various benefits of the Nicollet area.
This is the first time the city has invested in a marketing campaign dedicated to creating brand loyalty on a geographic scale. The city provided $18,000 to fund Live Nicollet. The LNA also provided approximately $4,500 in staff time.
Live Nicollet was conceived as a reaction to extensive construction in the Lyndale area.
“Part of why we’re doing this is in response to the construction,” said Mark Hinds, executive director of the LNA.
The Nicollet construction project is a two-year undertaking. The Lyndale area is scheduled to remain under construction until early November. During the course of the project, Nicollet will be narrowed to make way for lighting, public art, trees, grass and new parking spaces. The revamped Nicollet Avenue will also be more pedestrian-friendly.
Hinds stated that Live Nicollet is an opportunity to introduce residents to the new Nicollet Avenue, as a center of community and commerce. The LNA hopes to host an open street event to celebrate the end of construction this fall.
“This is really, for this neighborhood, a rebirth of our main street,” said Hinds.
To learn more about how to participate in Live Nicollet, visit the LNA website.