OWOSSO (WJRT) - (12/23/16) - In the past few years, a number of unique stores, boutiques and restaurants have opened in downtown Owosso, but many people don't know they exist.
That's a problem because the city wants to become the next big shopping destination.
The Owosso Main Street DDA is starting a marketing program to draw attention to the businesses there, but they're not going to promote it the traditional way.
The DDA wants to attract millennials and Gen-Xers, who don't always pay attention to traditional advertising, but there are things in Owosso they will buy.
"They don't want the same old, same old. They don't want something they can get anywhere else. So that's what downtown businesses have to offer," said Josh Adams, Owosso Main Street DDA executive director.
One part of the new marketing plan is use social media to spread the word that downtown Owosso is a fun place to be.
"They're discovering what friends of friends of friends are interested in," said Gordon Riddle Pennington, a marketing specialist.
So far 15 businesses have joined the marketing campaign. The DDA hopes another 35 or so join in.
One aspect that will be promoted is how easy it is to get around downtown Owosso.
"I think you're seeing that shift where people want to walk, they want to experience, they want to window shop again," Adams said.
"Owosso has recognized that it is a destination because of the combination of food, beverage and boutique shopping," Pennington said.
Business people think the promotion effort will have a good effect.
"We can certainly convince people that this is a great place to live, a great place to hang out and have fun," said Jon Moore, Foster Coffee Company co-owner.
"I think that they just enjoy the customer service that they get from a small business. They get help when they walk in the door," said Susan Treen, Apple Tree Lane owner.
While it's too late to benefit from this year's Christmas shopping season, the promotion could make a big difference next year.