Thursday, June 30, 2011

Lincolnton Citizens Celebrate Independents Days

Independents Days is once again being celebrated in downtown Lincolnton July 1 - 14. Named "Best Downtown Special Event 2008" by the North Carolina Main Street Center, this year's Independents Days includes the Shop Local Challenge, the Find Your Independents scavenger hunt, and the 3/50 project.

The initiative was begun by the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA) as "Independents Week," but the Downtown Development Association's (DDA) Promotions Work Group put its own spin on the event by starting Independents Days, a two week long celebration of downtown Lincolnton's locally owned independent businesses, in 2008.

The Shop Local Challenge encourages the public to shop locally owned businesses first, and to keep track of items that are not available from such establishments. Lists of those items may be turned in to the DDA at the Business & Community Development office, 114 East Main Street, to help the organization in identifying products and services that could benefit the downtown community.

Perhaps one of the more popular activities of Independents Days is the Find Your Independents scavenger hunt. To play the game, participants pick up game cards at the Business & Community Development Office or other participating businesses. They then scour locally owned businesses in the downtown area in search of the unique items listed on the game cards. Clerks in each business will mark the card with a special sticker acknowledging that the items have been found. Once participants find all of the items, they will then turn their game cards in to the Business & Community Development office by July 14 where one will be randomly drawn on July 15 for a prize package filled with goodies from each of the following participating businesses: 36th Street Bakery & CafĂ©, Fausto’s Coffee, First Federal Savings Bank, Heavenly Paws Pet Grooming, Hi-Lites, Kate McCall, Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio/Studio 220, The Perfect Spot and Ride-A-Bike. No purchase is necessary to play the game.

"The game was developed to offer some incentive for people to visit downtown Lincolnton's locally owned independent businesses that they may not visit on a regular basis," said Cathy Davis, Chair of the DDA Promotions Work Group. "We hope that our participants discover something new downtown, whether it be a new business or an item that they did not know was available in Lincolnton."

The final facet of the promotion, the 3/50 Project, has swept the nation's independently owned businesses since its launch earlier this year. The project asks citizens to identify the three independently owned businesses that they would miss most if they were gone. Citizens are then encouraged to stop by those businesses - to pick up a small gift for a friend or even just to say hello - as a way of showing their support.

“Fifty comes from the idea that if even half the employed population spent a mere $50 per month in locally owned retail stores, those purchases would generate more than $42.6 billion in revenue,” said Cinda Baxter, creator of the 3/50 Project. “That's a huge impact for a relatively small investment.”

Approximately $68 remains in a community's economy for every $100 spent in locally owned stores. By contrast, only $43 per $100 remains local when spent in national chains; little or no revenue results from online purchases.

“In essence, the whole thing boils down to 'Pick 3, spend 50, save the economy.' It's really that

simple,” said Baxter.

More information on the 3/50 Project can be found at, and more information on Independents Days can be obtained by calling Lincolnton Business & Community Development at (704) 736-8915 or visiting

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

First Friday Coffee and Conversation with Bob Terri Director of the UMAR Arts Center

First Friday Coffee and Conversation (FFCC) is this Friday morning at at 8am at 36th Street Bakery & Cafe. Our guest is Bob Terri the director of the new UMAR Arts Center in downtown Lincolnton. Come see the plans for this new Arts Center that will anchor the Academy Street Arts District in Downtown Lincolnton.

Designed to be a small informal discussion group to give downtown business and property owners and interested citizens the chance to express their opinions, make suggestions and ask questions about downtown and the community in general. The series encourages social interaction among citizens and builds community.

The idea for the Coffee and Conversation series is rooted in the community planning concept of “Third Places” popularized by Ray Oldenburg in his Book--The Great Good Place. The “first place’ is the home and the people one lives with. The ‘second place’ is the work place where everyone spends most of their time. Third places are meeting places such as cafes or coffee houses the ‘anchors’ of community life that facilitate and foster creative interaction and are welcoming and comfortable.

A community's well-being is dependent on the quality of relationships among the citizens of that community. Infrastructure, roads, water, sewer, electricity and housing provides the shell within which people live. It is within this shell that people do the things together that allow them to sustain livelihoods. These include but are not limited to education, health care, business, recreation, and spiritual celebration. People working together with shared understandings and expectations are what provide a place of strong community.

You are invited to this uniquely local experience. Each month a business or community leader participates in the conversation. There are no formal presentations or programs. The topics for discussion will be focused on whatever interests those that attend. The event is BYOC--That's Buy Your Own Coffee.

New UMAR Arts Center of Lincolnton to Anchor Academy Street Arts District Downtown

Anchoring downtown Lincolnton's developing Academy Street Arts District the new UMAR Arts Center is located at 202 East Main Street. Soon the building formerly housing Creative Travel & Rainbow Vacuum will be transformed into a retail gallery and studio for artists working in a variety of art mediums.

The UMAR ARTS Program organizes partnerships with artists from the community to teach various forms of art to adults with disabilities. Program participants have the opportunity to learn about, create and display for sale, different forms of visual art such as painting, pottery, and digital photography.

As program participants gain skills in their chosen art mediums, they also receive critical job training. UMAR has extensive experience in job training for adults with disabilities and the arts curriculum follows the same education process. After training, program participants are placed in competitive employment in the community as support for artists in locations such as galleries, museums, frame shops, ceramics studios, retail stores, catering or performing art venues.

The UMAR ARTS Program offers morning and afternoon sessions with participation at the center as well as in the community. Morning sessions include classes such as Art Redesign, Mixed Media, Drawing & Painting, Paint Exploration, Clay Sculpture and Photography. Community-based afternoon field trips include attendance at arts shows, gallery crawls.

UMAR is a nonprofit organization that promotes community inclusion, independence and growth for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities through residential, employment and cultural enrichment opportunities. Since 1983, UMAR has pioneered diverse supports for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities across western North Carolina.

In addition to the UMAR Arts Program local artists can rent upstairs studio space and have display/sales space in the Art Center gallery. For more information on the UMAR Arts Center Contact Bob Terri UMAR Arts Center Director 813-416-1844