The first, First Tuesday Downtown Coffee Talk — downtown Burlington’s version of Elon University’s College Coffee — went pretty much as expected. A crowd of 30 was predicted to attend the initial 9:30 a.m. event at the Historic Depot downtown and that’s almost exactly what we got. It was a nice mixture that included city firefighters, employees at LabCorp, city staff members, Mayor Ian Baltutis and representatives from the Burlington Downtown Corporation. That was in May. We’re hoping to get a few more takers for free coffee and a doughnut in June.
That day arrives tomorrow — June 4, 2019 — when the second First Tuesday starts at 9:30 a.m. and runs to 10:30 a.m. at the Historic Depot. We scheduled it to coincide at about the time folks who work or own businesses downtown might be taking a morning break. My role in all of this is as a member of the Burlington Downtown Corporation Board of Directors and a member of the Promotions Committee. We thought it a great way to get downtown stakeholders (business owners, nonprofits) together with people from all walks of life who work downtown. it’s a formidable number of people who could really make a difference by patronizing the growing number of retail, gift and food options there.
Sara Beth Hardy, director of operations and communications for the BDC, estimates that 2,000 folks work downtown. When you think about it, that number makes sense. It includes not only LabCorp’s approximately 500 employees but most of the city of Burlington’s staff, City Hall, police, fire and recreation and parks departments; May Memorial Library; the Chamber of Commerce; Alamance Tourism; the U.S. Postal Service; multiple churches; Impact Alamance; the United Way; and the Times-News. Our idea is that people from those operations meet once a month for coffee and to learn about what’s going on downtown. The depot courtyard is a great area to place tables for display or offer information about organizations or businesses.
The First Tuesday concept works in conjunction with the popular and communitywide Fourth Friday already in place. That late afternoon and early evening event draws hundreds of people downtown for music and food after regular business hours. First Tuesday is much more laid back, mostly built to foster fellowship and information among those connected to downtown.
The momentum from the first, First Tuesday will hopefully lead to a larger number of people at the depot on Main and Front Streets on June 4. After all, the police and fire stations are within easy walking distance as is City Hall. It’s great community relations for those three city operations in particular to take an interest in building a better downtown. It would be great to see some familiar faces from the newspaper, too.
It shouldn’t be that difficult to schedule a few minutes to stop by for even a quick hello to meet neighbors you might not know exist and learn more about what businesses are located around the downtown or what events of interest might be coming up. I spoke to someone in downtown recently who had no idea the old May Hosiery building would soon be ready to rent apartments. That’s how poorly news travels even a few blocks these days.
So tomorrow — June 4 — free coffee for downtown folks will be available at the Historic Depot across from Burlington Beer Works from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Please feel free to spread the word.