Chat about the Sidewalk Sale with Dan Hughes

July 18, 2007

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

Dan Hughes

Dan Hughes, in addition to owning Sunflower Bike Shop, is on the board of Downtown Lawrence Inc. He'll take questions about Thursday's Sidewalk Sale - and maybe one or two about the Tour de France.

Moderator:

Hello folks, this is 6News Reporter Janet Reid, and with me is Downtown Lawrence, Inc. board member Dan Hughes, who also happens to be the owner of Sunflower Outdoor & Bike Shop. He's here to answer all of your questions about tomorrow's downtown sidewalk sale.

Dan Hughes:

Glad to be hear Janet, thanks for having me.

Moderator:

How many years have you been involved in the annual sidewalk sale and how much work is it for business owners to prepare for the event?

Dan Hughes:

Well, this personally will be my 18th Sidewalk Sale, so I'm an old-hat at this I guess. As for the work involved, we typically start preparing a couple months in advance.

Moderator:

One more thing before we get started, can you let people know what hours the sale runs and where is the best place to park?

Dan Hughes:

The sale runs from "Sun-up to Sun-down" so most places are open at around 6:00AM and stay open until 9:00PM or so. Parking in the various two-hour lots surrounding Downtown should be a good bet, and I would also add that rides on the T are free Downtown tomorrow.

gdiepenb:

Forecasters predict another hot day tomorrow. What tips do you have for shoppers on how to survive the heat?

Dan Hughes:

My best suggestion would be to get there early to beat the heat. Although when I looked at the forecast it looked like it would be in the mid-90's so I thought it could be worse! I know lots of places, including ours, will also be handing out free water to stay hydrated with.

Moderator:

On a related note, will the sales go on rain or shine?

Dan Hughes:

It's a rain or shine event so I'd imagine that things will go on no matter what the weather.

ktag:

Can any business take part in the downtown sidewalk sale? And, if so, are there any special permits that must be obtained to participate?

Dan Hughes:

At the moment, I don't know of any restrictions as to who can participate in the Sidewalk Sale provided they obtain the proper permits (right-of-way, etc.) from City Hall. I think that's a two-week process.

bullistic:

What sort of deals will be available at Sunflower? Any big savings on bikes themselves or will it mostly be accessories?

Dan Hughes:

We'll have a wide range of product out there on the sidewalk. Obviously, things like jackets and such from the Fall/Winter carry-over will be plentiful, but we always seem to scrounge up some bikes, too.

Moderator:

Any idea on how many shoppers will flock to downtown tomorrow? It will be the first time in at least a couple of years that shoppers won't have to contend with waterline work on Massachusetts Street. Do you think that will help the turnout?

Dan Hughes:

The sale usually brings around 30,000 folks Downtown and with the waterline project wrapped up early, it should make it significantly easier to navigate around the sale.

Moderator:

With all the merchandise out on the sidewalks, do business owners worry about theft? What safeguards are in place to prevent it?

Dan Hughes:

I know we put a lot of extra bodies out on the sidewalk for the event. We have customers who like the excitement of the day and volunteer to help us keep an eye on things, so that works out pretty well. We also have Wade on the lifeguard tower as our eyes in the sky. I think other merchants use similar methods, but without Wade, obviously.

Moderator:

Just how good are the bargains? On average, how much do vendors mark down their merchandise?

Dan Hughes:

We've found that most shoppers are looking for bargains in the 30-50% off range. Some products are easier to mark down since they have a higher margin to begin with. Other items, like bikes for example, aren't marked up that much from the outset, so it's tougher to mark them down a lot.

Moderator:

What's the strangest item you've seen up for sale?

Dan Hughes:

Hmm, strangest item...I wouldn't call them strange, but I know I've seen some "unique" items at places like Ernst Hardware in the past. I think it's always interesting to see what merchants have squirreled away in their shops that see the light of day at Sidewalk Sale.

Moderator:

Has there ever been any talk of possibly closing Massachusetts street off for the event and opening it up to pedestrian traffic?

Dan Hughes:

Every so often someone suggests closing down Massachusetts St. for the day, but I think a lot of merchants appreciate the flow of traffic through Downtown. Most customers are accustomed to parking in front of the business they're patronizing, so to make them hoof it on a hot day might be a little too much.

Sigmund:

Any Carbon Fiber road bikes in my size going on sale??

Dan Hughes:

Well, it's tough to ascertain your size through the chat :-), but I know Paul (our Bike Shop Manager) has got a number of road bikes on sale currently, many of them in carbon. I would hasten to add that Sidewalk Sale is often not the absolute best time to buy a bike since we like folks to test ride their bikes, and it's a little crazy Downtown on the third Thursday in July!

Moderator:

Looks like we're running out of questions. Any last words of advice for shoppers heading downtown tomorrow?

Dan Hughes:

It's pretty simple really, get up early, put on some comfy shoes, make sure you hydrate, and have fun! There'll be lots of good deals out there on the sidewalk!

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