Garden City is trying to get the party started

Downtown Garden City

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (KSNW) — Garden City wants to enhance its nightlife downtown by attracting more bars, restaurants, and music venues, a shift away from the retail focus.

Several retailers have closed downtown just this summer.

“The nightlife will be good for us, I think, if we’re open later,” said Sonya Roth, who owns Colleen’s Trophies, Awards, & Gifts downtown.

It’s not an easy change. Many downtown businesses are family owned with small staffs.

Roth, however, has been expanding her product line recently and is eager to keep up with the changing culture downtown.

“Possibly the businesses being open later, maybe one late night or something. That may be something we can work with.”

Some businesses are already primed to serve an evening customer base.

“As far as our business goes,” said Rosie Swick, owner of Illusions Hair Salon, “that’s great, drawing a lot of new customers and people from restaurants, and we do stay open late hours also, so that helps.”

For the salon owner, growing the downtown area is a group effort.

“Our salon will just be involved in helping other businesses, and maybe building with them to draw to our downtown. So it would kind of be working together as a team, more so than just our salon.”

Several downtown businesses recently participated in the Banner Art Walk, where local art was displayed inside main street businesses.

“Oh it brings people down here so they can see what there is down here,” said Roth. “It’s fun, it’s family fun. For me, that art walk brought all kinds of new customers into my store.”

Roth says that event generate sales from new customers. She hopes retail will still have a place as nightlife grows.

“I would love to see a few more boutiques,” she said, “maybe just things you don’t get.”

Several store owners tell me they want to see more retail downtown, not less. With competition from online sales, city officials say retailers will have to offer customers something they can’t get online, if they want to stay in business.

Officials also say growing the nightlife needs to be done in conjunction with adding more housing downtown as well.

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