Association helps bring locals and tourists to downtown |

Association helps bring locals and tourists to downtown

Kirk Caraway
Brad Horn/Nevada Appeal

With all of the different events going on in downtown Carson City – from Fridays @ 3rd Street to the Wine Walk – it’s hard to know who is doing what.

There are two separate downtown groups that are promoting events in this area. The Carson City Downtown Consortium is an arm of the city’s Redevelopment Authority that was established in 2008. The group – funded with money from the city – is in charge of the Fridays @ 3rd Street events, the Saturday Farmer’s Market and Family Pop-Up Park. It was also responsible for the Arlington Square Ice Rink that operated last winter.

Sometimes confused with the consortium is the Carson City Downtown Business Association, a non-profit organization of businesses that has come together to promote its own events. The group started four years ago, and its main events are the monthly Wine Walk and Beer Crawl.

Kristy Servanti, marketing director for the Horseshoe Club, and a board member of the association, said the organization started when she and her counterpart at the Nugget, Kelly Brant, started thinking about ways to boost downtown.

“We got together and started talking about all these small businesses down here that are really struggling,” Servanti said.

Servanti also noted that something said by Roger Brooks, a development consultant hired by the city, stuck with her.

“He said if you can’t get your locals downtown, you will never get tourists,” Servanti said.

Looking for ways to get more locals to rediscover downtown, the association started the Wine Walk on the first Saturday of each month. The Beer Crawl on the third Saturday of the month was added a year ago.

“We set up these two events, and we’ve really had great success with them,” Servanti said. “I constantly hear from people who come to these events that they didn’t know all of these shops were down here. We also didn’t realize before, but we’ve been pulling in people from Reno and the lake.”

And while walking around downtown is something one would associate with warm weather months, the events have proved popular even in winter.

“Our slogan is, rain or shine, we still pour wine,” Servanti said. “Some of our best wine walks have been in the dead of winter when there’s nothing else to do.”

The association is sending out post cards to publicize the Wine Walk and Beer Crawl, and motorists coming down Highway 50 from Spooner Summit will soon be seeing a billboard promoting downtown as well. They also have a new website to bring news of downtown Carson City to the world.

Servanti said they are also looking at adding other events in the near future. One such event would happen around Halloween, with ghost dinners featuring actors in the restaurants, and the Hoofbeats carriage taking guests on a tour of the decorated homes on the west side.

They also are looking at establishing a family-friendly event on the second Saturday of each month.

The businesses that make up the association have been improving the area as well, Servanti said. She cited the outdoor dining areas at Firkin & Fox and Doppelgangers as encouraging more people to spend time downtown. As a result, the Horseshoe Club is looking into setting up outdoor dining of its own in the alley behind the casino, with live music on weekends, margaritas and a taco bar.

Servanti said The Nugget was instrumental in helping build the association.

“We have a meeting every month, and they put out a buffet dinner for our members for free,” she said. “After people work for 12 hours a day, they don’t want to go to another meeting. But to go there and have a nice dinner has really helped this group grow.”

Lenny Chappell, manager of Platinum+ Salon & Spa, is coming in as the organization’s new president, taking over the reins from Jolene Miley, owner of Cherokee Scents Candle Company and Gift Shop.

“We are all working together now,” Servanti said. “As a group, we are going to tackle these things that need to be done.”