BY DAVE BLANK
You’ve been secret shopped!
To some those words might send a shudder down their spine, but it was welcomed news across Racine County as downtown destination guru Roger Brooks and his wife, Jane visited Racine, Waterford and Burlington from June 14-22.
Brooks has done this exercise in over 1,500 communities across North America and Europe. He’s seen what works- and what doesn’t. In fact, he has a list of best practices that the creme d la crème of downtowns employ. So, how did we do?
He viewed us through the lens of visiting the area for the first time as a leisure visitor. Yes, he’d done some research before arriving here, just as you would do when you go on vacation – or if you were contemplating moving to the area. That’s right, you would visit an area before you considered moving there, wouldn’t you? In fact, he said that “Tourism is the front door to your non-tourism economic development.”
One of the first things that he mentioned was that 70 percent of all consumer retail spending takes place after 6 p.m. All three downtown areas folded up the sidewalks for the most part at 5. That’s one area that we can work on. He presented over 60 such tidbits in each of his presentations.
He looked at what photos were available online of the three towns, what the real estate market looked like, and the schools. Of course, he also looked at wayfinding. Unfortunately, it wasn’t very good in Burlington or Racine during his time here – but a brand new system is slated to be installed this fall east of the Interstate. He also checked out the parks, playgrounds, beaches, museums and gathering spots that help improve the quality of life here.
Have I piqued your interest? There’s way too much for me to go into here. You really have to see his presentations. We have them available on our website – realracine.com. Go to the “Roger Brooks” tab on top of the homepage. You’ll find both the Burlington/Waterford presentation from June 20 and the Racine presentation from June 22. Better find a comfortable chair as they’re each over 2 ½ hours long. The presentation is very entertaining—and the best part is that all three communities are using this as a catalyst to make their downtowns better.
It’s an exciting time to be in Racine County, and Real Racine, along with our partners at the Village of Waterford and the cities of Burlington and Racine, are excited to get the conversations started.
Dave Blank is the president/CEO of Real Racine (Racine County Convention & Visitors Bureau).