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Discover Lansdale Wants You for First Friday

The Lansdale nonprofit organization invited businesses and nonprofits to a First Friday kickoff event Monday night, where individuals learned the benefits of boosting their commerce and awareness through vending and sponsoring First Fridays

First Friday comes back to Lansdale in April — and the Lansdale nonprofit Discover Lansdale wants you.

On Monday night at the Lansdale Parks and Recreation Building, Discover Lansdale held a First Friday kickoff and informational session for business owners and nonprofits interested in becoming vendors or sponsors at the monthly seasonal event, which runs through December. Food and refreshments were provided by Margarita's Restaurant, Molly Maguire's, Shell.Fish.Sue, Tabora Farms, Virago Baking Co., Not Just Sandwiches, Main Street Pizzeria, Zeigler's and Round Guys Brewery.

"You all came to hear the answer to the question posed on the invite: How can Lansdale First Friday help grow your business or organization?" said Discover Lansdale President and Councilwoman Mary Fuller. Fuller also chairs the borough's Economic Development Committee.

She said the 2012 season was "successful" for the inaugural First Friday events.

"We have a bigger and better plan, with a year under our belt," Fuller said.

Fuller emphasized that the kickoff was not one of desperation, but recruitment; First Friday is a success and it wants to make local businesses better.

"What we really want to do is show how First Friday transforms downtown Lansdale once a month. If businesses aren't already taking advantage of what we do, they can see how it helps," Fuller said.

The session featured testimonials from various nonprofits and businesses who have seen an increased customer base or membership influx since participating as a vendor or sponsor at First Friday. North Penn YMCA and Manna on Main Street were just a few of the testimonials.

Amanda Wappes-Griffies, of the North Penn YMCA, said First Friday is an opportunity for the YMCA to be out in front of thousands of people and share its story and what it does for the public.

"We can engage the community and invite them into our doors," she said. "It's an amazing opportunity to be out showing support for the community and businesses that thrive in the area."

Wappes-Griffies said she would love to see First Friday grow each year.

"The more this event grows, the more that come into Lansdale and see what we all love," she said. "It's a benefit for all of us as individuals or charitable organizations."

Kristyn Didominick, of Manna on Main Street in Lansdale, said First Friday has provided a venue for Manna to share its mission.

"We are out there talking about our goals and what we like to do, and that's so important," she said. "We tell why people need to be involved. We get our volunteers out. They participate in what we are doing to raise funds and support the organization."

Didominick said First Friday was a wonderful source for Manna to promote its annual 5K Race and build support for other events.

"It's an opportunity to build relationships. They really want to get to know the people involved in our agency," she said. "They see how they are — it's intimate and that's valuable."

Robin Dennis, of Wave Reviews Family Hair Salon, said First Friday is a way for people to become acquainted with her business.

"A lot of people don't take the time to look and see what is available in the downtown. By being involved in First Friday, it gives us the chance to promote to others and entice them to see if they are comfortable with us," Dennis said.

Dennis recounted a specific First Friday experience that boosted her business. One recent First Friday, Dennis was discussing her business with another woman. This woman made an appointment because "we met at First Friday, and we were so nice that she came in and wanted us to be her new salon."

Dennis said the woman's daughter then came in the next week, and eventually picked Wave Reviews to do hair and makeup for her bridal party. Some of the bridal party then became regular customers, Dennis said.

"First Friday did bring that in for us," she said. "It's a chance for participating businesses to sit back and watch people come to town and see businesses thrive because of First Friday."

Doug DiPasquale, owner of Minuteman Press in Lansdale and president of the Lansdale Business Association, said First Friday is a way "to get your name in front of thousands that you wouldn't be able to do at a low cost."

"It shows community support. It is important," he said. "By being out and involved, you help the community grow and you help your business grow."

So what does it cost to be part of First Friday?

Vendors can pay $40 a month to have a 10-foot by 10-foot booth at First Fridays. A full season is $320. There is a 10 percent discount for those businesses and sponsors that sign up prior to March 15. Electric is available for $10 extra. Full season vendors also get help creating QR Codes, which can link to Facebook pages or websites.

Sponsors can take advantage of a $250 a month or $150 a month sponsorship. A $250 a month sponsorship includes the sponsor's name on a banner hung at the event, a 100-square-foot space at First Friday, publicity on all material, including website, posters, maps and more, and a banner on the Discover Lansdale website, along with a link from its website to the sponsor's website.

The $150 sponsorship is considered a special sponsorship, where there is an option to sponsor certain parts of an individual First Friday, such as Family Corner. This sponsorship also includes a 100-square-foot space at First Friday, publicity on promotional materials and name on a banner.

Sponsors can also have their company name placed on banners above and along the music stages at First Friday.

Amy Purcell, of Zeigler's Apple Ciders, Teas and Juices, said her company was hesitant to be a vendor and sponsor at First Friday.

"The idea sold us," she said. "For this nominal amount, we can be in front of thousands and talk about our products."

Purcell said there was no way for Zeigler's to let its customers know when, how and why things change, due to the company being a seasonal business. She said First Friday also drew in customers into Zeigler's after the event.

"It afforded us a priceless opportunity to take something cold, like our cider, and turn it into something warm, like a relationship," she said. "It was an opportunity to build relationships in the community and let them know we remember them and we hope they remember us when they are shopping."

DJ Cunningham, owner of Motivation Music Center in Lansdale, is in charge of booking music for 2013. Cunningham announced some bands for this year's lineup:

  • Mango Men
  • Go Commando
  • Philly Funk Authority
  • The Mighty Manatees
  • Almost Fab
  • Where's Pete

"We will have many local bands to supplement and fill the town with music," Cunningham said.

Wappes-Griffies also spoke on the Family Corner sponsorships. This year, she said Family Corner will be expanded in Madison Lot from Railroad Plaza to the back of 311 W. Main St. There will also be more showcase events.

"The average American family spends more than $4,000 a year on entertainment. That's a lot of movie tickets, a lot of bowling, a lot of spending money out and about," she said. "This is a great opportunity to be out in the community, see your neighbors and see businesspeople. This is a low-cost way to do that."

Chantilly Floral co-owner Charles Booz, who sits as treasurer for Discover Lansdale, said everyone at Discover Lansdale are volunteers trying to get First Friday going strong in Lansdale.

"The focus is a better community overall," he said. "We need your help too. It's important we work together so we are all successful. If everybody did that, more will come out and we will be enormously successful. We're trying to pay it forward to make a more profitable community."

After the meeting, Booz said it was good to see the community out Monday night.

"There is a lot of energy already with sponsors," Booz said. "The first year of First Friday was a proving ground for a lot of businesses. Now, when we go out and ask for financial support, we'll get it."

Checks are payable to Discover Lansdale. Memo "First Friday" on the check. Send checks to Discover Lansdale, P.O. Box 1112, Lansdale, PA 19446.

Additional information is at info@discoverlansdale.org and at www.discoverlansdale.org.

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