After growing tired of participating in the same kind of yearly of events aimed at bringing visitors to downtown Sumner, a group of downtown business owners have gathered together to launch the Sumner Downtown Promotion Association.
“Things were really good for a long time,” said SDPA secretary LuAnn Iselin. “Then they grew stagnant. We thought that if we were going to do this, we would want to reinvent the wheel.”
The group was formed in November after several merchants came to the same realization: that their events needed revitalization and a new focus on how to draw more people into the downtown core.
“As a whole, our town is what people are striving for,” Iselin said. “It’s a dying breed to have a downtown Main Street, and we still have that. It’s time we peak and tweak our events to make them more exciting. It’s like a rebirth.”
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In the two months since launching the SDPA, the groups president, Suzanne Kipfer, says the group, made up of 26 members, is already functional — and is seeing success.
“We knew what we wanted,” Kipfer said. “It’s absolutely awesome. At our first event, Ring in 2016, we got the best feedback. Our stores were packed and there were tons of people in downtown.”
As a group of merchant owners, the SDPA knows what merchants want out of its events.
“We’re trying to shake it up,” Kipfer said. “We may have rocked the boat, but we’re bringing in more people to downtown. We’re not here to replace anyone.”
While the SDPA doesn’t want to replace the Sumner Downtown Association or the city’s involvement in downtown, organizers hope all three entities can work together.
“I see Sumner as a triangle,” Kipfer said. “The SDA, the city and the SDPA working together to improve downtown.”
According to Iselin, the leaders of SDPA have combined experience of more than 150 years as Sumner business owners.
“Even with online shopping, we’ve still kept our doors open,” she said. “We all have the same goal of making Sumner the best it possibly can be.”
The next event for the SDPA is Retail Therapy Night, from 4 to 7 p.m. Feb. 18, where participating downtown businesses will treat customers to some retail therapy with refreshments, discounts and gifts.