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Frostburg State Students Give Main Street Businesses a Boost During Frostburg 101
09/20/2016

Frostburg State Students Give Main Street Businesses a Boost During Frostburg 101
Students shopped at Crestmont LTD clothing store on Frostburg’s Main Street as part of Frostburg 101: A Taste of the City.

For some Frostburg State University students, shopping on Main Street is no longer a mystery.

A special student-only shopping event called Frostburg 101: A Taste of the City demystified downtown businesses for those FSU students by showing them what Main Street offers, enticing them with offers and giveaways.

FSU students filled downtown retailers and restaurants as part of the first-ever event held Saturday, Sept. 10.

About 220 students registered for the event, which enabled them to obtain a passport to use to explore Main Street and earn stamps to be eligible for prizes. Additional students continued to shop in the stores without registering, becoming a successful first-time event.

“I think the event definitely met our goal to get students in the door to these businesses and let them know that just because we don’t have big box stores does not mean we don’t have good quality mom-and-pop shops,” said FrostburgFirst Main Street Manager Jessica Palumbo.

The Frostburg Student Government Association, FrostburgFirst, FSU Foundation, City of Frostburg and FSU SafeRide all collaborated into creating and executing the inaugural event.

 

Creating an Experience

Frostburg 101 was born out of a local issues Town Hall meeting in October 2015 co-hosted by the FSU Office of Civic Engagement, SGA and FSU’s J. Glenn Beall Institute for Public Affairs. While talking to Frostburg’s mayor and council members, a student remarked during the meeting that the city lacks big box stores and retailers that appealed to her.

That led to a dialogue among students that night, sharing how the Frostburg merchants are welcoming to students and are a great place to shop. One student, Rosemary Rosser, asked why the city and University didn’t have an event to get students to go to Main Street businesses. That turned on the light bulb.

Rosser, now an alumna, and City Councilman Woody Getz presented the idea the following month to the Frostburg’s Main Street Maryland organization, FrostburgFirst. Business owners quickly bought in, too, leading to the creation of Frostburg 101: A Taste of the City.

“This shows me there can be a closer, constructive relationship between the University that sits within our city, and our city formally, FrostburgFirst and the business community,” Getz said.

Getz sees the bigger impact of what this could entail if 5,000 of FSU’s students could spend at least $10 once on Main Street.

“That’s $50,000 in a shot. Talk about $10 once a month then it multiples. Talk about more than $10, who knows what?” Getz said. “It has a huge potential.”

 

Business Reaction

Main Street’s foot traffic was steady with student shoppers filling up the sidewalks and shops.

Students could be seen not only sampling free items, but many of them filled up their free FrostburgFirst drawstring bag with purchases as they returned their passports to the registration table.

Clothing and accessories store Crestmont LTD has been in business 56 years in Frostburg and owner Jim Barnes has been around for 42 of those. Once FSU students walk in, they become regular customers.

“A lot of new students didn’t know the store was there. They were shocked when they got in to find out what type of store it was,” Barnes said. While he does sell men’s and women’s clothing, the student shoppers were excited about his Brighton and Vera Bradley lines, which are extremely popular with college women.

“A lot of girls took advantage of some of the Vera Bradley sales we had right away,” Barnes said. “We had one huge table at 40 percent off and a smaller table at 60 percent off, and now that table is almost empty.”

Sometimes it’s not always about the sale. Spectrum Design Services owner Andrea De Palatis was eager to educate students about what her store carries so they can return to make purchases for themselves and for others.

“One student said, ‘My mom collects butterflies. I didn’t know I could get a butterfly here for three dollars,’” De Palatis said.

De Palatis loved talking to students, finding out where they’re from, what they’re studying and their background.

“It enriches the whole environment when the students are out and about,” De Palatis said. “It breathes some life into the community.”

Grammy’s Attic co-owner Larissa Sheehan was seeing the benefits of repeat business from the event by the following Tuesday.

“Some of them have come back since then to get soup, milkshakes, ice cream or different items,” she said.

 

Student Involvement

On Saturday, resident assistants walked with students to Main Street and orientation peer mentors led freshmen on an easy stroll from campus to discover downtown. Free SafeRide shuttles continuously dropped off more FSU Bobcats to the event, too.

“There were students everywhere – not just standing waiting for their stamps, but actually sitting at tables, eating or enjoying milkshakes or browsing the store or waiting in line to purchase items,” Palumbo said.

SGA Vice-President James Kirk, student liaison to FrostburgFirst, was surprised at not only freshmen but upperclassmen in attendance.

“They remarked that they did learn a lot and wished they had this as freshmen … because they found out about all of these new and existing businesses in Frostburg,” said Kirk, who helped organize SGA’s involvement.

A Taste of the City enhanced the student population’s understanding of Frostburg beyond the annual Block Party held where community organizations congregate on Main Street.

“As great as Block Party is as a community event, there was a lot more actual exposure to what’s on Main Street at this event,” Kirk said.

The successful outing has organizers already thinking about the next crash course of Frostburg 101.

For more information about FrostburgFirst, visit www.downtownfrostburg.com.

-end-

For further information on this release, contact:

Office of News and Media Services
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, MD  21532-2303

Telephone: 301-687-3171
Fax: 301-687-7589
E-mail: news@frostburg.edu