Bristol Businesses to Celebrate 5th Anniversary of National Contest Win
It’s party time in Bristol Borough.
Five years ago, after one million votes were cast, Bristol won the national Small Business Revolution contest sponsored by Deluxe Corporation of Shoreview, Minnesota as the best Main Street in America.
Now, businesses in the Mill Street commercial district are planning an anniversary celebration, reflecting upon recent successes, and mapping out what comes next.
Bill Pezza, President of Raising the Bar, the economic development group that spearheaded the organizing of civic groups, schools, businesses, and private residents to win the contest, wants to use the anniversary observance as a catalyst to look to the future.
“We were definitely on an upswing prior to winning the contest, but the exposure the win brought us helped things grow exponentially,” Pezza said recently.
“Since the contest, twenty-three new businesses have opened on Mill Street and the adjacent side streets. That’s an amazing number, given the pandemic. Prior to the contest win, we had a commercial vacancy rate as high as forty percent. Today, it is less than five percent and each week we field inquiries about available space.”
“While we’re thrilled about these numbers, it’s imperative that we continue to grow and spread the word about Bristol’s resurgence, and we’ve been hard at work to do that.”
Recently Raising the Bar invited businesses to participate in a Destination Bristol initiative which included billboards directing people to its Visit Bristol Borough website. The data shows a one-hundred percent increase in site visits compared to the same period last year.
The business association is reenergized with new officers recruiting members and planning spring and summer events.
The Bristol-based Steve Mooney agency of Farmers Insurance has sponsored a popular Bites of Bristol series produced by 1681 Digital Media that features brief profiles of each restaurant and owner interviews.
Cross marketing is a strong Raising the Bar emphasis, with retail shops, the Bristol Riverside Theater and historic groups teaming with hospitality establishments to offer visitors a full shopping and entertainment experience.
The positive impact expands well beyond the commercial district. Recently the Borough announced that it issued more building permits and collected more permit fees than ever before and housing sales remain brisk, sure signs that people are bullish on Bristol.
“Work hard, play hard,” is an axiom that helps sustain the effort, and Bristol is planning a party to celebrate the 2017 event that led to Bristol being featured in an eight-part video series on the HULU network.
“We have several food and spirits establishments within five hundred steps of each other,” Pezza said. “We’re calling the cluster the POUR TOUR. They’ll be hosting simultaneous happy hours from 2-4 on February 19 to celebrate the anniversary, with each offering their choice of food and drink specials and entertainment.
RTB and Business Association board member Carla Sloan said that retail shops will participate as well with special sales and discounts.
In addition, the Bristol Riverside Theater is offering a 20% discount on their February 19th performances of The Calamari Sisters Sausagefest.
We want to demonstrate to residents and visitors that what happened in 2017 was no flash in the pan. The Bristol Borough success story is on-going and growing,” Pezza said.
For more information, go to www.visitbristolborough.com.