DDP’s Big Impact on Small Business: The Success of Our Vendor Programs and Events

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Detroit’s official start to spring happened last week with the Detroit Tigers’ Opening Day. Grand Circus Park was the official Opening Day Party site in partnership with the Detroit Tigers, Bally Sports, Miller Lite, and Downtown Detroit Partnership. Tens of thousands came Downtown for this annual tradition, and this is just the start.

Get ready; this year promises to bring an exceptional array of activities and events that will surely have something for all and leave you exhilarated.

Next month, the Downtown Detroit Partnership will launch its Summer in the Parks programming with old favorites and new events. And, just around the corner and returning to the streets of Downtown is the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix, presented by Lear. Creating and supporting new and legacy events — large and small — are the hallmarks of the DDP’s public space efforts. These deliberately designed activations and gatherings bring our community together, entertain and support local businesses.

The economic impact is evident when DDP’s parks and public spaces attract and support major events, conventions, tourism, investments, residents, and employees. The attendance is significant, causing a ripple effect through our various service industries as Downtown is visible on the national and international stages.

But what is not as evident is the significance DDP’s overall efforts have on local businesses.

What started decades ago with Downtown Detroit Days, Ethnic Festivals, and other critical business and cultural events has evolved into an incredibly robust event calendar.

Since 2000, DDP has expanded its role from creating and activating many of Downtown Detroit’s public spaces to having direct responsibility for improving, transforming, curating, programming, and managing Downtown Detroit’s historic and transformational public spaces. It’s no small task and takes countless hours of planning and managing maintenance schedules and calendars. However, the rewards are immense. DDP’s placemaking initiatives attract over four million visitors to more than 2,000 events annually to what are now internationally recognized and award-winning public spaces and programs.

These daily, weekly, and monthly events bring millions of dollars into our Downtown hospitality, retail, and restaurant establishments. And for those businesses without brick-and-mortar locations? We help them, too. Each year, the DDP engages more than 250 local vendors for its park programs ranging from Detroit Street Eats to Friday Market Nights and a host of other events throughout the summer and into the fall.

Through our programming, these participating businesses — primarily aspiring entrepreneurs — test their wares, expand their footprint, improve their marketing, engage with customers, and build their brands.

Here’s what Kiana Hughes, CEO of ScentScience LLC said about her experience as a Beacon Park Night Market vendor:

“[Beacon Park] provided a platform to present my business to a large, diverse audience consistently, to personally reach my consumer and give them a chance to get to know my personality and not just my products. Beacon Park became my home; customers knew they could purchase my candles every Saturday and enjoy all the festivities. Beacon Park Night Market played a major role in the growth and success of my business!

And this from Jessica Jansen of Boho Luxe Detroit, who returns to Market Fridays after her first year in 2022:

“I LOVED Market Fridays. The event is well organized, and I enjoy networking and meeting new people. Being in front of so many people every week helps get my name and brand out there. I love asking customers for suggestions on what products they want to see in my line. Seeing some customers return to purchase other items was also lovely. Very importantly, Market Fridays help me step up my vending skills — the more you do it, the better you get at it.”

But our work is constantly evolving to meet the needs of our community and embrace new opportunities. An example is with our affiliate partner through the Detroit Grand Prix; even more small businesses will benefit during this year’s event. For the first time, more than 30 businesses representing all seven neighborhood districts in Detroit will have the opportunity to market and sell their products and services to event attendees at Grand Prix’s Small Business Straightaway, located in Cadillac Square adjacent to the new track. No matter the size of the opportunity, DDP is dedicated to maximizing the positive and lasting impact on our community.

March may be over, but the madness of our summer schedule is just beginning. It will be fun and beneficial for Detroit residents, employees, visitors, and our local economy. I can’t wait to see you this summer.

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