WARREN Merchants organize to boost downtown

The group meets at 8 a.m. Tuesdays on the second floor of the Hippodrome, High Street.
WARREN -- By working as a group, downtown merchants can maximize their marketing power.
That's one of the goals of the Downtown Warren Merchants Association.
"We're looking to be a unified group of downtown business owners," said Nick Schuller, association co-chairman.
Membership is open to anyone with an interest in the city's downtown, said Eric Thompson, the group's other co-chairman.
Schuller and Thompson have owned Satolli Carpet and Floor Covering, High Street Northeast, for about 10 years.
The group includes about 12 core members but plans to expand.
"If we can get people in the room, they will want to be involved," Schuller said.
The group meets at 8 a.m. Tuesdays on the second floor of the Hippodrome, High Street. Membership is $60 per year. Officers will be elected at next week's meeting.
"Our mission statement is to create and promote professional and business growth and that's really what the group is all about," Thompson said.
"If we can increase traffic -- vehicular and pedestrian -- in downtown Warren, that's 80 percent of our job."
The association aims to promote the downtown as a shopping, dining and entertainment attraction, Schuller said.
"We want to make downtown Warren a destination," he said.
By working together, association members could pool their advertising. Other plans include a business directory, listing the businesses, nonprofit agencies, restaurants and other attractions available to downtown visitors.
The idea of a coupon book also is being bandied about.
Promotion ideas
The group has no governmental affiliation, the co-chairmen say, but they expect it to become a political force to be reckoned with as membership grows. Several city officials already have attended association meetings.
The co-chairmen contend there's a lot going on downtown, but limited dollars have curtailed promotional efforts.
"There's a lot going on in downtown Warren as far as culture," Thompson said, listing the Italian and Celtic festivals, African-American Achievement Festival, Ghost Walk, Opening Night, Noon in the Park events, the Great Lakes Festival Ballet and others.
"Sometimes people live only 5 to 10 miles from downtown and they don't know these things are going on," he said.
The association's efforts can help get the word out, Thompson said.
"The museums here are phenomenal," he said. "School kids travel to Cleveland and Columbus for trips when there's a lot of history right here that isn't being tapped."
But not everyone knows what the area has to offer. To get involved, attend a meeting or call Schuller or Thompson at (330) 394-7573.
"Warren really has a beautiful downtown," Thomspon said.

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