Downtown Winnemucca gets a much needed facelift

The Downtown Business Association (DBA) has given the downtown area a facelift in order to attract more businesses — and more customers — to the downtown area. And it’s working, said DBA president Jacy Jackson. Several new businesses have started or moved into the area, including the new coffee shop, Cafe 345, owned by Debbie Palmer, Real Deals Winnemucca, owned by Holly Laird, and Essential Oils and More, owned by Katherine Hall.

Jackson owns Le French Twist Salon and Cheers Tap House and several other downtown properties she leases to other businesses. About three years ago, she and Danielle Flores, owner of Simply Trendy, decided that the downtown area was looking pretty shabby. And shabby doesn’t draw people in. So they raised the long-defunct DBA from the dead, Jackson said.

When Walmart moved to town, it caused many local businesses to shut down, because they just couldn’t compete with the conglomerate, Jackson said. “We wanted to create something that would bring people back to the downtown area.” Eye appeal is critical, since run-down places don’t draw in customers.

But the pair soon learned that if they wanted anything done, they’d have to roll up their sleeves and do the work themselves. “It was an uphill struggle getting help,” she said. They started small, with just a few flower pots planted with annuals and placed on the downtown sidewalks. That got a favorable reaction, and soon the DBA was doing more.

The group organized a margarita walk, which was successful. But since they didn’t want to compete with the Chamber’s Wine Walk, they didn’t make it an annual event. People don’t attend if an event takes place too often, she said. So instead of the margarita walk, the DBA decided on Dames and Designs — a fashion show and dinner. It’s a black tie event that features a fashion show and vendors where women can shop. “It was a big hit. We had a good turnout for that,” Jackson said.

The group has also sponsored Santa’s Village at the firehouse for the past three years. This event lets children visit with Santa and write letters to him, win toys, go on hayrides, and enjoy hot dogs and cocoa. In the summertime, the DBA sponsors Bridge Street Fairs once a month. They are an opportunity for vendors to set up outdoor shops and to draw foot traffic to the downtown area.

Perhaps the most ambitious project of all has been the downtown painting project. The board members of the DBA, including Jackson and Flores and fellow board members Dana Rown, owner of Brown’s Bar M, Liz Barela, and Debbie Bell picked up brushes and rollers and painted 17 buildings in the downtown area. Jackson said that project is nearly finished; there are only four more buildings to paint.

The next project on the list is to create a downtown historical walk, building upon the work the Chamber of Commerce has already done. The plan is to get photos of all the historical buildings on the Chamber’s walking tour list so that tour-takers can see a picture of what the building looked like in the past and how it has transformed over the years. “That project is going to take a little while, but that will be our main focus,” Jackson said.