In 2013, after a rather brutal Winter that nearly brought downtown Cape Girardeau to its collective knees, Paula Haas of Somewhere in Times Antiques sent out a mass email to fellow merchants checking to see if they were faring the harsh Winter well. That simple touch-base email to fellow merchants quickly snowballed into a synergetic collective effort to increase foot traffic downtown.
Local merchants gathered to brainstorm ways of drawing customers back into downtown and its many businesses. And from this meeting, a small committee was formed.
The first event this group held (once the weather returned to a tolerable temperature) was a sidewalk sale--a simple, no-cost way of unifying merchants in one common goal: to bring shoppers downtown.
After this event, the group's next focus centered around The Hunt for Amy: a Gone Girl themed scavenger hunt, which coincided with the movie release. This event was so massively successful that is still talked about today.
Much of the production of this movie was done in Cape Girardeau, and featured many downtown locations in the final cut. The fevered excitement that surrounded the production of Gone Girl helped generate a renewed enthusiasm for Cape Girardeau's historic district. The Hunt for Amy celebrated this enthusiasm and enticed thousands of locals to once again shop, explore, and enjoy downtown.
The scavenger hunt was designed in such as way as to bring customers--on their quest to answer cryptic scavenger hunt questions--into 30+ participating downtown merchants. Many of the hunters had never been to downtown Cape Girardeau, and their exposure to all that downtown has to offer was limited.
Over 40 sponsors from all over the Cape Girardeau community helped make the event a success, and media coverage was so great that another scavenger hunt themed event is planned for the near future.
In June of 2014, the next great event followed: the Tailgate Flea Market. With nineteen vendors helping make it a success, shoppers from all over the area flocked to the city streets in search of great deals on unique and one-of-a-kind items. Much of what was learned from that event helped shape future events, and each vendor walked away with the knowledge that Downtown Merchants Group is a dedicated group focused on making downtown shopping a positive experience. The second annual Tailgate Flea Market was held on October 4, 2015, which resulted in a noticeable uptick in vendor participation--from nineteen vendors in 2014 to forty-one vendors in 2015.
Today, Downtown Merchants Group of Cape Girardeau is working on various projects and events that will bring much needed advertising and promotion to downtown merchants. In January of 2016, Downtown Merchants Group will begin a membership-based structure in which all monies collected from membership fees will go toward special events, advertising, and promotions for the great local businesses that are members.