Business & Real Estate

Roseville merchants group cancels Tuesday night festival due to funding shortfall

Spectators look at classic cars during Roseville’s Downtown Tuesday Nights festival, May 6, 2008.
Spectators look at classic cars during Roseville’s Downtown Tuesday Nights festival, May 6, 2008. Sacramento Bee Staff Photo

A Roseville business group has canceled its weekly downtown street festival this year because of a looming financial shortfall.

Downtown Tuesday Nights has been staged from May to July on Vernon Street for the last 12 years by the Downtown Roseville Merchants. The event – which closed part of downtown to cars – included bands, a Kids Zone, food, a farmers market and a car show.

This year, sponsorships were running $30,000 behind what was needed, said Scott Alvord, a downtown business owner and former board president.

He said the group has struggled to get enough sponsors for the past three years. The merchants group contracts with promoter EZ Events to put on Downtown Tuesday Nights, which costs about $80,000 in total.

The cancellation comes despite what Alvord described as record crowds last year. “One night we had over 7,000 people,” he said.

The Downtown Roseville Merchants board was able to get the city of Roseville to agree to absorb the cost of street closures – a savings of $12,000, Alvord said.

“Even with that, we found that we were still $20,000 short,” Alvord said. “We really have worked very hard to save this event the last three years. We just were not able to pull a rabbit of the hat the way we’ve done before.”

Alvord said the group hopes to bring the weekly festival back next year.

Megan MacPherson, spokeswoman for the city of Roseville, said the city did what it could to keep Downtown Tuesday Nights viable. She said the city spends roughly $100,000 a year helping 300 events. “We will miss that downtown event, but there are still a lot of activities going on in downtown,” she said.

Merchants in downtown Roseville offered mixed opinions about whether the street festival’s absence will help or hurt them. Some said it brought more customer traffic, while others said it made it difficult for regular customers to access stores.

Pawn shop co-owner Eileen Lawson said the event gave a weekly boost to her pawn shop and jewelry repair business, called Chester’s Jewelry and Loans.

“So many people pop in here who’ve never been into a pawn shop before,” Lawson said. “We don’t sell a lot on Tuesday nights, but the event does bring people back to us for jewelry repair.”

Lawson said that many who visit her shop during Downtown Tuesday Nights also return during Christmas season to buy jewelry. “I do want to see this event return – absolutely,” Lawson said.

M Taylor, who owns an eclectic furniture and art store called Sparrow 5, is also a fan of the festival. “That event is like free advertising for us,” Taylor said. “A lot who come in are just looking, but they come back and become repeat customers.”

Roseville Cyclery co-owner Oliver Bell said he feels differently. “The absence of this event will have a really positive effect for our business. It will allow us to have traffic again on Tuesday nights.”

Bell said his part of Vernon Street is closed during the festival, with vintage cars parked on his block. “We’re a destination business, so the event is inconvenient because our customers cannot park and come into the store,” he said.

He said his business has dropped 30 to 40 percent on those Tuesdays. “I’m fully in support of a lifestyle festival here on Tuesday nights, but not the vintage cars,” Bell said.

He said he thinks the concerts and movies staged nearby in Roseville’s Town Square are more effective at boosting downtown business. Those, he said, “have been fantastic for us.”

Douglas Wagemann, owner of the Cochrane & Wagemann funeral home, said he thinks it may be more efficient for individual merchants to take charge of their own events instead of relying on a group.

Wagemann is also president of the Downtown Roseville Partnership, the property-based business improvement district that represents business and commercial property owners downtown via an annual property assessment tax. “The thing is, there are an awful lot of events going on down here,” Wagemann said.

“When we did surveys and surveyed Downtown Tuesday Nights, we noticed there were only a handful of businesses that were open during that period of time.”

Edward Ortiz: 916-321-1071, @edwardortiz