Community Unites in 'Alton Finale' | Small Business Revolution - Main Street: S3E8
It. Has been six. Incredible. Months. Working with and being a part of Alton, we. Learned so, much from you. At. A time when our country could not be more divided, on more issues, Alton. Can be the example it. Can prove that when communities work to remove those barriers to remove the, division. Change. Can happen, when. It comes to division unless, you keep your foot on the gas keep. Making sure everyone, has an equal seat. At the table the. Status quo will reassert, itself and here's. The thing about the status quo it's. Not good enough, that's. Why you all voted for the small business revolution to come here because you knew that this is a special, and beautiful place, and it. Could be better. Small. Towns across the country are fighting for their survival if the odds stacked against, them but what happens if we join that fight if we dedicate, a little money a lot of experience, and thousands, of hours of work into one small town focusing. On the businesses, that are the heart of their Main Street what started, as an idea became, a national, movement with over 30,000. Towns nominated. For the $500,000. Makeover, and more than a million votes asked for. Now. In our third season the team is taking on its biggest challenge ever, the town is three times bigger than any we've helped before and the hurdles on faces, will put to the test the very idea of Main Street America, so Amanda Brinkman and her team of marketing experts at deluxe our goal door for the people of Alton Illinois and, they're, not alone new, season three co-hosts Ty Pennington will, be working with the team to rehabilitate. The town's buildings while a whole cast of experts helps rehabilitate its, businesses every, episode we'll be working with a new small business, to see if we can change the odds if, together, we, can start a revolution. When. Alton won the small business revolution we knew we were heading into uncharted territory this. Is by far the biggest time we've ever tried to help three. Times bigger than bristle burl or Wabash, and our entire six months here has been an exercise in learning on the fly, we. Chose Alton as a finalist because of the people the, river the, burgeoning small business community but. It wasn't until they won the contest that we started to understand, how rich and unique the history here was civil, war history is huge, here in Alton if people don't expect that Alton, was home to the seventh and final blanket in Douglas debate Alton. Was an underground railroad community. They, not only came from Missouri the, key from Louisiana. Arkansas. Mississippi. Tennessee. Jets. Proficient. You, know with the fact that this was a center. For slave, catchers, you, are actually right on the line of Free State versus slave state and of course those lines weren't confirmed you know they were blurred and the more alternatives, we talked to the more we realized just how much Waltons present, has been shaped by that complicated, past Alton. Was a city that didn't, grow through urban planning it, grew through annexations. Overall used to be its own city for example so they have their own business sister got, so many different pockets. Allons or different strips of, Commerce, it's a challenge for us to blend everything together I don't think we take full advantage, of the, diversity, that we have we. Tend to sell Saturday that's, a natural phenomenon. But. It wasn't until we started working with our six businesses, that we really came to understand just how distinctive, all of these neighborhoods in districts work from. Bluff City outwards, we learned there's a whole segment of Altman that makes your living and spends their life. Lovett's. And shampoo cheese introduced, us to upper off an up-and-coming. Neighborhood that's working its way back from some heartbreaks, see downtown get a lot of attention today what a ride through here okay. All, right well it is another foot off Morrison's. And lighthouse sounds showed us that with the downtown as special, as all these small town businesses, can draw in customers from.
Far Beyond the city roads st., Louis bands come across, the river and try to get a following over here because, it's such a nice, place to play and today, is beautiful I taught us that main street is more, than just a place on the map this, neighborhood, is. But there's great things and there's great people that's embedded in this community, every. One of these neighborhoods presents, a unique set, of opportunities, but the one challenge they all share is that nobody, feels like the areas are as cohesive, as they could be so. As we bring tie-in to start thinking about structural, renovations, that has to be our guiding principle, what, can we do to make almond which has so many different things to offer feel, more like one town and how. Can the small business community help, bring everyone together. Personally. I would rather live here than I would live in just a suburb or st. Louis there's an allure there we really do have the best of both worlds here I mean 20-minute Drive and you're in the middle of the forest in 20 minutes that way you're in the middle of a major metropolitan cities, so for sports events and everything which is yeah okay, so let's talk a little about kind of the. Physical, improvements. Of the downtown's what do you guys feel like all needs. Most of all for, me Street scapes are great you, know those kind, of monuments, door lights, over third Street that would really make that place dazzle, we need those markers that really, tie. It all together continuity. Is really what we're after so that people know that there is something if I keep walking down the block you know there's something to explore especially, Upper, Alton we need something there to send welcome, to all it would just look a little bit better then. It can, showcase, our, mom-and-pop, place is there just. Something that extends, the I said, create this really beautiful visual. Of a Main Street all the way down yeah there's enough talent, here I think we can do whatever we we, all, come up with together everybody, wants to help and when we saw that through the voting process what. I love is is we've got a little, bit of input from all of you in in different parts, of Alton, which make up the whole and, I think the, entire towns got a benefit because that's gonna just cause a buzz that's gonna spread throughout the town absolutely. What. Makes a community strong. Is the. People that you buy, a drink. From at the local bar your favorite restaurant the people you drop your your, pet off and you're getting infirmity, the people that supply, you when you go fishing it's, all those little bitty businesses, that really not to you to your community and we had free steel mills here we had the glassworks here as all, that's moved out the, small businesses, are what's. Gonna bring us you, know back and I, think is gonna take us all working together, uptown, downtown Little. Mexico, pie town it's gonna take all these little areas working together and to help bring all them back bringing. Alton back that's, everyone's, goal but, how do we best spend our time and resources to help the town small businesses, get there a half, a million dollars goes pretty quickly when you spread it over 30,000. People in six distinctive, districts we're. Calling it an old friend to help answer those questions one, of the chief architects, of season, one winner Wabash, Indiana's, resurgence, Christine.
Floor And as, always with Christine it's up to the rest of us to, keep up, what. Are the things that we found interesting was if you look at one of these economic, impact reports you can see local, business retail. Was up seven point four percent, from the previous year and this is a direct result from the impact, of small business revolution because. We learned that we need to pay attention to. Branding we as a community work really closely with our town leaders to create, a brand of who we are collectively. So, as we were putting directional, signage there's, a story, that comes, together you, see a cohesive, message we have worked with consultants, a couple of times to try to work through what, Alton's brand is and what. I really clearly understand is that it's not a logo it's not a slogan but what, is it it's the river, it's the scenery it's the history it is the people you know we're realizing more and more it's it's all these different. Walks of life that we have combined, here in Alton and how, together this sense of community is turning, into a sense of place also. I believe this sense of people knowing, that when we say our Alton, it really identifies. And resonates with people that is really our Alton so that made them actually, been able to have a say, of what their their their business look like their community, looks like right there and they're there area I, agree because we want to try and find kind of that unifying Alton, brand and try and get everyone's, feedback and does that feel inclusive. Enough does that feel like that represents what the whole town needs. The, work in almond falls into two major categories physical. Improvements, and building. The town's brand they, both share a common goal bring. All them together. The. Team at deluxe will tackle the brand and marketing work and we'll hire Alton based contractors, for renovations, on all. Of these pieces will, be leaning on the town leaders to guide the process and oh, yeah we've, got a deadline, the grand finale is just a few short months right now is, the time for them they have so much momentum with, the way they turned out behind the my outs and campaign during voting the, community, is coming together and it's now our Alton, they have a couple different things that we could draw out as we're trying to kind of help them think through their branding but there's not like one thing, right now that Alton, is known for I really respect that they've got such reverence for their history but I feel like they're missing out on who are they now sometimes, there's an older demographic that's. Drawn to the small town charm right but in all I mean they've got it going on at bogan sissies you've got a drag show you got a kick-ass Irish bar everything that you'd want from a major metro area but that smaller footprint, in an easier way of life a small town for the next generation, we coin that and then there's other personas, student now that we're talking about like a blustery outdoors experience we can go fishing for the day I mean it's no wonder they've had a hard time boiling down like one thing maybe. There's a way to talk about the variety, but put it under one cleanly, distilled message you, can do it all in alton. Helping. People discover all, the different avenues that there are tiny t-shirt on a smile they, really embrace this are all and, we could help them kind of sell it as what is your own. Back. In town construction, is underway and the decision, to hire local is already, painted the challenge, we have is that in the community of this size doing. All this stuff is kind, of beyond the dollars, we're able to do, what's. Been remarkable is that the construction folks who we've reached out to are, discounting. Over and above not, only are they giving us a great deal they're also donating, a lot more time so that will really help I mean, the amount of people, coming. Together the, things that are getting done that haven't been done in 20 years it's, really just amazing, we live here our, kids are growing up here and we know what it's like to be a small business it's really important, that this town succeeds, and anything, we can do to help that you know we really want to completely do one. Of the things they do want was, illuminating. Third. In states so it's kind of their restaurant row so, we're, looking into paying for Edison lights they'll go across that whole street we're doing a mural which. You can see coming off of the Clark bridge what's. Taking, place right now is the energy, of unity. It's just a lectric, you feel it in the air you can feel it on social media everybody. Pulling together and, being a part of this building, process, I probably talked to more business owners in our community, in the past two weeks eleven.
Last Two years, neighborhood. To neighborhood you can feel the town coming together and at the Creative Lab we're working to make sure you can see that unity when you're walking down the street so, they actually have I think a hundred and thirty nine banner, polls but, I think we can update. A little bit from a branding standpoint the, look of these makes, it feel dated, we want that modern, take. Presenting. Their, history, if we come up with one template, but then put you know historic, downtown, Halton historic upper Alton you know give some continuity, but then give specificity. To those different. Areas that really have their own flavor of their own culture, it's, a sprint pulling all of these elements together but, we keep to draw energy from, the people who. Are constantly looking for new ways to support, they're. Introducing. The community, of all and to Cuban beans and actually. Social, media traffic is huge, but you always want to try to drive people toward your website spot it's the best opportunity to present yourself exactly, how you want to be seen visit. Alton calm is a great, site but there are some things we can do to improve it things like interactive, maps, rather than PDFs, of maps or an interactive map would be great yeah and search engines can't read a PDF so, it'll be helpful or further search, rankings - there's also sites, like TripAdvisor where. I saw a lot of Alton's, top 10 attractions, are, not heading, back to visit Alton, so I think we can help clean up some of those are listening send and get people to the content, on visit all in that car I. Don't. Know how, you can put a dollar value on the amount of recognition. We're getting st. Louis Chamber of Commerce has been here Congress will stop then I mean I stalk people out with maps the other day on Broadway, when's the last time you saw that and Alton you know there, seems to be a real, sense of community everywhere, hopefully, that'll just ripple. Out and maybe. Show that it, can be a destination do you if, you had to be a mayor of any city in the cadre I'm sure there would be a lot of mayors of choices. Everything. Feels like it's coming together but, we've been doing most of our work from afar relying, on the town for updates, and direction on the progress in Alton so I want to head back to town to check in with Sara Brett and Jason and get an honesty, of the revolution. So, how are we feeling about the list ahead of us I mean do we feel like we can get this done in time hmm. I would say the. Managing, of so many moving parts has been definitely. Challenging. A lot of these bodies, that give permission only meet once a month or maybe twice a month so we're having to call you know especially. To. Get all this push through do you feel like all of the neighborhoods, and sections of Altan have been represented, in the process or have we missed something it. Feels like it to me absolutely, that's good I would, I think I would agree on that too as a whole I think you know the the residents, of the town all feel really really really, energized. And involved in it okay. Yeah. Okay good so no. Just. Like, when, I when I go down to central, that's. Not been represented here. You know we. Do want to take this energy we want to build from it I just meant truthfully honest people have we have been overlooked, really. The the part that we have to do as a as, a town as a community, we, have to start getting more involved with and, you know we want to touch the easy part so you want to touch the parts that you know okay, we just can put a little love here and that's great but there's some questions you're not gonna see it instant return because. It's been neglected for so long. You know many dreamers, you know how many entrepreneurs you. If the harvest is nothing, else other than giving, these people hope it, would change the world, for, some people. Everyone's. Goal from the start had been to keep the whole town included, but. The process fell short and the. Scariest part was it's. Not like there was some ill intention, group conspiring. To leave Central Avenue our would. Ask the city how we could help improve their small business districts and central, had always been classified as a residential, area.
Alton's. Uh it's, a neat little community, on the other side there's, always been that racial divide here a lot of people don't like to talk about it but we just sit on those thoughts and those feelings that you have all nobody changes, you, know people have to be willing to talk if, something happens downtown and it doesn't happen uptown, and then the, Uptown up. In arms about it and if something happens uptown then downtown's, jealous, and I kind, of hate that because no matter where it's happening, and all and it's happening, for Alton, we, just need to come together. That's. It but. That's hard. We. Have to make sure Central, Avenue is included, but, we need guidance on the right way to do that we've. Always believed that if you want to get to know a town and, get to know what small businesses, so, we're turning to the man whose business brought us to central in the first place, Benjamin. Gulley. Everything. Takes time and, you don't know what you don't know and. When. When, you do something and you, have honest integrity behind. It then. That's what really matters, you know you've poured your heart out and and, you want to, make sure that, you do the best for. Our community and, I can sense that we. Have to be the ones who change in there different that's kind of like what reason I spoke up and I believe that and intentions. Are pure not, only from your part but from the other individuals. Who say who should be at the table but, at, some point the narrative have to change of who they're. Used to been at a table mm-hmm, so you know I think central originally. Wasn't on the list because it's not you know currently, looked at as a business, district so we kind of want to get your thoughts on these there something we could do for Central Avenue that pays tribute to the fact there are businesses there and to encourage other businesses to open there and that it's seen as a business. District, if there's. An opportunity to. Maybe. Meet some of the other business, owners in, that, neighborhood, in that community, letting. People know that you want to engage with them that you want to talk to them a lot of times in our neighborhood. Because. Of the stigma people, are, afraid, to come and just even have conversation. To see who's there I think, they would welcome. Some. Of the conversations. And share, some of their stories of their lives well I mean it's, about things like you've been like you know the town celebration. Like you know a few weeks are all gonna gather we're gonna celebrate this entire process together I mean does the entire community feel welcome. To that well, what I've seen is it's a damn theater been, with the am theater throughout, the years here. With the type of bands and things that they bring it, hasn't been a diverse. Crowd you, know everybody, doesn't listen to bluegrass everybody. Doesn't listen to country everybody. Doesn't listen to rock and roll you, know so everybody goes to their own respective corners I mean. Even though that was even your instinct right yes and you're a very inclusive guy so I feel, like that's a mess you. Guys are doing amazing things and you have already shined. A bright light on. Alton. And the, community, as a whole so, don't. Think negative about, anything that you guys have done because that's. Not how it that's not how I have received. They're. A way to like incorporate, a DJ, throughout the night at the finale so feel for inclusive yeah, you could definitely do that I mean it's in between two sets of the band I'm sure that'll work out fine I'm, pretty sure I can get a DJ to come who would.
Be Looking for an opportunity, to be seen and with Drive people. There but, if. There are updates we control the amphitheater, is website. So we can put in you. Know updates to music or any of that stuff anyway. I'm onboard. With. Less than two weeks to go it remains, to be seen whether or not we can turn this finale event into, something that truly represents all, of them but. We've got all the right people working on it and working. Together. This, is it our final, week in ultimate and everybody's. Here ty, is touring the town while contractors, apply finishing touches, the. Deluxe team is arriving in force and I'm. Starting my week by presenting Bret president, of the area's tourism bureau with some of the town's new, marketing, materials, one place that we felt if there's an opportunity is logos there's multiple. Different logos, out there in many cases people were actually using the city seal yeah the Refresh is much needed so this is where we landed having, the two different, water streams is a really important way to talk about the confluence, of the rivers coming, together right here in Alton, so it's a subtle nod to unity I couldn't agree more but this will keep us fresh and contemporary, outside. In 13 state Sara cam and Ty are checking out alton street vendors where, the new logo is already, in action i just absolutely love how it says downtown, or north or upper having. These banners it just kind of shows it no matter where you are if you know small business and there's a couple others that's a beach street that's cool if it turned out awesome too we. Also added some banners, around the fact that you guys have worn, the small business revolution. Really great actually and I think it also helps with civic pride you know to remind us with jalapeno special that. Was amazing, this was one of the things they said we don't want any of the banners, do because we've already dug these great flowers and I said well let's find a solution we got go ahead and create new brackets, so that it's consistent across but you just still has its own flavor but then to see the awning, are you kidding me with a new logo I love it this. Town is, literally, the makeovers. Are incredible. There's. This really beautiful editorial, in your paper about how it's done from my out and to our elderly and so, then we want to make it more because. There's so many different things to do here you can River shopping. The history, this, is where the party happens right exactly, there's about a dozen bars and restaurants within walking distance right now it's amazing how festive just running lights thank you for some sweet solutely I was out here last night and everybody was outside of the bars just on the street on the sidewalk just, looking, her out was that like late-night research. We're. Hoping to provide the city of Alton with the tools it needs to, support its small businesses, but we also want to support its small business owners directly so. The deluxe team is hosting seminars and one-on-one, consulting sessions. For the town's current, and aspiring, entrepreneurs. I run. The part of the Luxor looks after and. Will support people in the world small businesses, we know is hard and what we're really trying to do here is help you be more successful small. Business revenue, guys, it is fall when this rolls out you're gonna get a lot of people come to all it's, very important, that google, loves your business, what we're going to talk about is how to make that happen right the, more you can narrow down your audience, the, more you can speak to them the. Small business revolution isn't the only thing to celebrate in town this week Alton's 27th, annual Juneteenth, celebration, is drawing a crowd into, an impact in cities, across this country peoples. Of different races will. Be joining hands, to truthfully, valleys, and puri in our history that continues, to, influence our society. Today. With. Hours to go before the final celebration I have one last stop to make finally. Finishing that town tour that we started months ago when we first set foot home. Funeral. Homes have always, just been a staple in, our community, at that point we, hadn't even heard of Central Avenue but, now it's, impossible to imagine without. It it's just always been. A. Place. It's, very important.
Now. See you guys are brothers yes we are. Mark. And his family is a staple in this community their. Father is a pastor of the church and, so is kind of a holistic approach to taking, care of everybody in the community let's try to make it as much like, home as possible what's. The hardest part about running your finger I guess, it's tough when you have to serve the families that you know in. Fact sometimes. When typing, the information in it kind of hits you like a ton of rocks and. You. Have to be. Wearing this business hat forget your grieving as well and extremely. Challenging it is. It's. A, something. That gets a lot a lot of good business that particular, place. Good. Morning. Grandpa. Fun. Place to spend time they, have the, beauticians, on this side have a barber chair on the other side that's. A brother so you have Sam, it's all family-run, and so, and, you're like the women against the men right. How. Long have you been I've. Been doing, this since 2001. And my, mom she's, been here 20, years we've been here since 95. We built this from the ground. Another. Business. Okay. All right I grew, up in a salon, my grandmother was a hairdresser and. My great-grandfather. Was a barber. My. Hair. 4sc. At, least like 33. Years 34. Years I, wouldn't. Have nobody else. Here. This. Is what we have in this community on Central, we have people who care deeply she's. Gonna know family, members she's gonna know what's going on in their lives all, the things that really count this. Is what you get in a community, and that's. How we are here, because. I've seen so. Many young people grow up to be great great. Adults, he's. One of. Yeah. They're in his sons and, and, they're doing great bringing. Your. Awesome. Over. The last few years has. Really went through a revolution. Our buildings, are filling, up our small businesses, are doing better the, town is really taking, off this, did not happen without your boat so everybody give yourself a bit pause because. Without you we wouldn't be here tonight. All. Of you guys working together to make a better town is making America, an even better place to be thanks, for being a part of it thanks, for letting me be a part of it. It. Is hard to believe that it has been six, incredible.
Months. Since we started visiting, working. With and being a part, of Alton, this. Has been an incredible. Experience you. Have challenged, our assumptions, as to, where Main, Street, actually. Exists, and you've, been brutally, honest with us about the, shared history of your community, as a whole. From. Central, to. Upper all down. To Broadway. Alton. Is really a mirror. For our entire country, Alton. Can be the example, it can prove that when communities work to remove the, division, that. Seismic change, can happen. This, is a special. Special, place, know. That. Believe. That and keep. Pushing, this community, forward. We. Know you will we believe you can. And. We can't wait to see what you do next. There, were more than a thousand, people packed into that amphitheater, and they came from every corner of Hall we. Never would have pulled in that kind of crowd without the small businesses, that tie Alton, together they. Were the community organizers, the trusted caretakers, the leaders, the. Bridge between this town and the, revolution, and knowing. That there. Was one more person we, wanted Alton to hear from. I. Was. Asked to come up here and speak tonight about my experience, and my hope for Alton, moving. Forward. My. Hope is that we can discover. To. Use the, spiritual, energy that we call love. To. Move us out of the stone Age's, of Darkness, called hatred, jealousy. And. Bigotry. And. Move, us into a new age called. Kindness. Acceptance. And tolerance, without. Any judgment. Because. The moment, the. Moment that each of us learn how to love each other unconditionally. Then. Thy. Kingdom come. Thy. Will be done. On. Earth as, it. Is in heaven. I. Know. That everybody came here today with, somebody that they love and, they love somebody. In common grab, somebody's, hand. Bear with me for thine, are the kingdom, and the, power and, the. Door. And, ever oh man. I'll. Never. Forget what Benjamin said right after he walked offstage. Tomorrow. We, go back to work it'd. Be crazy to think that one night or one, program could. Fix something that this town and frankly, our country, have, been grappling with for hundreds, of years, real. Change is hard, always. So. Tomorrow we. Go back to work all, of us because. As all of our promises. But. After getting to know the people of all the Illinois I. Know. That there is hope. You. You. Just. A short drive from st. Louis historic, and picturesque, Alton has a potential, to be a tourism hotspot, but, like many small towns their, story was disjointed and inconsistent. Visit. Deluxe comm backslash, to, learn more about hub, deluxe team help with the sparkle back in this river city's tourism.