Pullman businesses unite to attract customers | Local

Pullman businesses have formed a group to promote each other and organize events intended to attract much-needed foot traffic downtown.

Pullman Downtown Promotions launched its first event, Downtown Christmas Countdown, on Friday. Many of the 18 retail stores and restaurants participating in the event are offering discounts or free snacks throughout the weekend. Santa Claus is scheduled to make an appearance today at Michelle’s Closet on North Grand Avenue.

Jandi Utzman, owner of Dance in Motion, said Michelle’s Closet owner Michelle Kelly inspired her to form Pullman Downtown Promotions when the consignment store did a previous group sale with five other businesses.

“I kind of thought, why are we not all banding together to promote each other, come up with promotions downtown?” Utzman said. “And that’s how the idea started.”

She said the Downtown Pullman Association, which was also formed to promote local businesses, has been less active during the COVID-19 pandemic. She said Pullman Downtown Promotions hopes to “fill that gap” in the meantime and merge its efforts with the Downtown Pullman Association in the future.

Kelly said she figured a business cannot have too many avenues to promote itself, and holding events in coordination with fellow business owners may be more effective than individual sales.

“If we all did one at the same time, then maybe that would bring more foot traffic downtown,” she said.

Utzman also spoke about the merits of businesses uniting during a time when they are struggling to survive the pandemic.

“Because I know some people have leases coming up this next year and we want to say to everybody, ‘Hey, Pullman’s worth staying for,’ ” Utzman said. “And we’re going to keep building these relationships and customer base.”

With much of the college student population gone, these businesses are relying on permanent residents to support businesses during the next couple months.

She said Pullman Downtown Promotions wants to organize monthly events that in the future will attract these residents as well as the college students when they return to Pullman.

Julie Essex, a Michelle’s Closet employee and Washington State University student, said students would be more likely to come downtown if there was an incentive. She said other students she knows do not visit downtown because they do not know what’s offered there.

She said monthly events could provide that incentive.

“I think it would help not just single businesses but honestly the whole downtown area,” she said.

Utzman also said she will ask businesses to participate in Pullman High School Senior Saturdays, a sales event during which graduating seniors are offered discounts

The Pullman Downtown Promotions website, pdpgroup.biz, indicates plans for a New Year’s sales event in January and a Mardi Gras themed event in February.

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