Downtown businesses hope for continued progress

Published 8:25 am Friday, May 8, 2015

Noting less than normal participation from the public at the last Rendezvous on the Road block party, Cajun Canvas & More owner Aundriea Mitchell asked the public to continue supporting downtown businesses.

Mitchell responded to rumors circulating that some people chose not to attend Rendezvous after the city terminated the successful Main Street Program and its popular manager, Robin Day, because of the city’s financial hardships. The program ended on April 7.

“There is that rumor going around that people were boycotting Rendezvous because the program was cut,” Mitchell said. “If that is true, that is only hurting us and the city. We hope nobody is boycotting anything. All this negativity we need to turn into a positive. Our city is growing, and our street is growing, so let’s go forward.”

Mitchell said Day did an outstanding job for downtown.

“We appreciate what Robin and the Main Street Program did,” Mitchell said. “But because the Main Street Program is gone, that doesn’t mean we as merchants are not here. In my opinion, I appreciated the Main Street Program and I relied on it, but it’s not here anymore. So we as merchants, with the support of our mayor, will continue on our own.”

Mitchell said she and four other Columbia Street business owners met with Bogalusa Mayor Wendy Perrette to hear her plans for the area over the next few months. Representatives from Wild Blu Boutique, Michele, The Polka Dot Tree and Gayle’s Jewelers attended the meeting.

“Wendy assured us we will keep having the Rendezvous on the Road series each month,” Mitchell said. “We’re also talking about other events to incorporate during the year. We wanted it to come from her on how she was going to help us. We’ve all invested in this area, and a lot of it was because of the Main Street Program. Just because it’s gone doesn’t mean we’re leaving. We’re here to stay. We want the support of the city.”

437 Restaurant owner Kelli Garwood said maintaining businesses downtown is imperative.

Mitchell hinted at subtle changes for Rendezvous.

“We want to turn Rendezvous into having a more family-friendly atmosphere,” Mitchell said. “We’re going to focus in a different direction and bring more family-friendly activities to the area.”

“We’re going to do all we can to keep buildings occupied downtown and momentum moving,” Garwood said. “A thriving downtown is vital for any city. Main Street Programs around the country have proven a successful downtown is vital to an entire city, not just our little area. We plan on keeping the momentum downtown going.”