Culver Triathlon

I borrowed the picture and logo above from the Culver Triathlon website.  The organizers came before the Town Council to request help with closing the streets for an hour during the biking portion of the event on August 8th.  According to their presentation, this is the second fastest growing triathlon in the nation and they are expecting more that 500 participants this year.  I don’t know, but I would say a conservative estimate would be that each participant equates to two spectators.  That would be doubling the population of Culver that day.

And here’s the rant…  

The organizers would like to close Lake Shore Drive and Main Street for an hour in the morning.  They plan to bring in 1000+ people, many of whom probably don’t know where Culver is.  So why would a downtown merchant speak out at the meeting suggesting that they move the event out of town???  Culver continues to spend money on television commercials in the hopes of bringing patrons to town.  Here is an opportunity to bring hundreds, if not thousands into town.  Don’t we want them downtown to see what’s there?

This is Deja Vu all over again for me.  I have had this same argument with downtown merchants regarding Lake Fest and specifically the Lake Fest Parade.  Their argument:  “We lose business to Lakefest.  People eat food from the vendors at the park where they normally eat in the local restaurants.  People buy T-shirts from out-of-town venders at the park.  Local merchants lose out.”  My argument:  “When the parade is going on, you have a captive audience in front of your store waiting for the parade to start.  What do you try and sell them?  Many of those people are from out of town.  They probably didn’t know your shop existed before this.  You may not sell something to them today, but did you do anything to try and entice them back later?  Have you considered selling some T-shirts to that captive audience or putting a booth in the park to compete with the out-of-town vendors?  Did you attempt to sell a Coke and a hotdog to the parade crowd while they stood in front of your restaurant?”

I am not a downtown merchant, but I understand that Culver is a tough place to make a go of it with the short season and the diverse, transient clientele.  I think I might take advantage of the kind of traffic generated by this event.  Some of the people that complain about these events are the same ones that have encouraged the Christmas in Culver, Fall Fest and Winter Fest to generate traffic.  If those events become successful are they going to suggest that they be moved out of town too?

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