Archive for Sunday, March 26, 2006

Ad campaign rolls out welcome mat to Topeka

March 26, 2006


Topekans are still welcome in Lawrence.

That's the message of an advertising campaign spearheaded by the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, in the aftermath of a February downtown shooting that prompted one local business owner to publicly blame Topekans for similar problems.

"We know that particularly downtown merchants have a lot of business from Topeka," said Judy Billings, director of the Lawrence Convention & Visitors Bureau, a chamber agency, "and we want them to know they are welcome there."

The trouble began in early February, when one man was injured and another killed in a shootout following a concert at the Granada, 1020 Mass. A murder charge was later filed against the Topeka man, Rashawn T. Anderson, accused in the killing.

In a Feb. 7 Journal-World article, Mike Elwell, owner of the Lawrence club Abe & Jake's Landing, outlined a Friday night policy for his bar that required customers to have two forms of identification, one to show their age and the other to prove enrollment at Kansas University or Haskell Indian Nations University. He said in the article that he thought many problems that come to Lawrence drinking establishments "center on Topeka."

Those comments sparked a letter of apology from the Lawrence City Commission. In mid-March, the chamber followed up with a series of advertisements in the Topeka Capital-Journal.

The ad features a welcome mat and says: "Perceptions are everything, right? We just wanted to make sure that all our neighbors know they are always welcome in our community. So come and make yourself at home."

Eighteen businesses joined the chamber and City Hall in sponsoring the ad.

"We have a lot of customers from Topeka, longtime loyal customers," said Geri Riekhof, owner of The Bay Leaf. "Our perspective was to thank them - to recognize they make the drive ... and that's part of keeping downtown alive and well."

Billings agreed.

"We don't usually advertise in Topeka, because our focus is getting people to spend the night," she said. "But we felt there was enough negative talk and negative publicity. Merchants said some of their customers made mention of it. So we thought it would be good to say, 'You're welcome here.'"

Billings said the ad would run a final time in the Capital-Journal on Wednesday.


lunacydetector 11 years, 12 months ago

this is ridiculous. why make a mountain out of a mole hill? are two of our city commissioners hyper-sensitive because they have gotten ribbed from their co-workers (since they earn their living in topeka and NOT in lawrence)?

i bet most people in topeka don't even know what this is all about. i bet they don't care. they are probably too busy overhauling their 1950's jalopies to even care what lawrence thinks about them.

personally, i am offended the topeka news stations/news paper caters to manhattan and the k-state wildcats in their broadcasts. where is the lawrence public outcry regarding this little matter? boo-hoo! we are only 20 minutes away from topeka. how far is manhattan from topeka? why must they discriminate against us? they've been doing it since i can remember.

...and macon47, i totally agree with you, as usual.

lunacydetector 11 years, 12 months ago

in a liberal community such as lawrence you'd think there wouldn't be a veiled attempt to limit free speech. next time a business owner wants to tell it like it is, he better think twice because the city might throw down the hammer (and sickle).

bearded_gnome 11 years, 12 months ago

new lawrence motto: we hug-a-thug, and we'll overlook that little bulge in your clothes! c'mon down!

hammysammy 11 years, 12 months ago

New Lawrence motto "So many of us are really actually rascist, but are too fond of our liberal persona to actually come out and say it." The people who don't want people from Topeka here should just say what they really mean.

dream 11 years, 12 months ago

The smoking ban drove most of the legit Topeka and KC crowd away from downtown nightlife. Anyone notice how dead downtown is on Thursday, Friday and Saturday late nights? There used to be large numbers of people at all the nightspots... Now it's almost a ghost town except for a very few spots. Worse yet the same people go to the same places on the same nights.

Unfortunately the shooting was the second shooting involving a Topekan... Remember Brother's shooting? He was also from Topeka. I have personally seen a few bar fights that guess what, have almost always involved Topekans.

There is no solution to this, just stating what I have seen.

hammysammy 11 years, 12 months ago

I'm not playing a race card, I'm stating the obvious. The civil rights movement is only in the not so distant past, but in our insulated little hamlet, we still have a long way to go.

bangaranggerg 11 years, 12 months ago

I wouldn't worry about Topekans not comming to Lawrence for a good time. The only option for them is our bars, Topeka is lame, like 3 times the population and they can't support any scene of their own. But I would worry about topekans continueing to shoot people. Question: Is their an American ad for people in the middle east that's like, hey buy our stuff we don't think you are terrorists?

Lorenzo_Teris 11 years, 12 months ago

Yeah, I think bang is right. I mean, if Topekans don't come here....where they gonna go?

For a city of 130,000 or so....Topeka is pretty lame (in a lot of ways)!

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