Mena Downtown Partners is an organization that has been actively pursing change and growth. In an effort to accomplish this, many new and refurbished activities have been introduced to the community's calendar of events, as well as changes to the group's membership structure.

Rick Chrisman, president of MDP, said now is the perfect time to join their efforts.

"Membership fees have been reduced and a membership type added to help clarify and provide an incentive to join the group," he said, noting this is the time of year for annual membership sign-ups. "We have a new membership opportunity, called a secondary membership, for those business owners owning more than one business."

Chrisman urges supporters of downtown business, in addition to downtown business owners, to become a member.

"If you haven’t joined in our efforts to promote downtown Mena, you need to do so," he said. "We’re continually developing fun and creative ideas to make people aware of the opportunities there are in our growing downtown."

Chrisman said in the two-plus years MDP has been in existence, several activities have been offered to the community.

"A very important presentation was given by Greg Phillips of Main Street Arkansas to describe how that program works and the benefits of joining," he said.

The MDP organization joined American Independent Business Alliance to develop a 'Buy Local' campaign and focus on the economic advantage of keeping dollars spent in the community by buying from locally owned businesses. Signage to this effect is displayed on MDP member businesses.

"We are continually developing activities to draw people to downtown- Christmas in July, welcome events for new businesses,  and a new event, Cash Mob, to get people into unfamiliar stores and experience downtown," Chrisman explained. 

Cash Mob is an event where a group of shoppers will gather and commit to spending $20 each at a randomly selected MDP member business. The event is planned to be held monthly on the second Saturday. 

"We expect this to grow as more shoppers become aware," Chrisman said. "If we have enough businesses join Downtown Partners, additional days can be added so that all members will enjoy the advantage of this event.

"There is a bright future for Mena’s downtown as we continue to focus together on developing more activities that will bring economic benefit to our businesses and the whole community," he continued. "Strength in numbers is very applicable for this effort. Please consider joining us to improve what we do."

A reduction of the annual dues begins with the current membership drive, which became effective as of September 1. 

"We hope the new structure will encourage greater participation," Chrisman said. 

Downtown Liaison Officer, Judy Thompson, shared Chrisman's views. 

"The downtown area reflects the overall health of its city," Thompson said. "That is one reason MDP strives for an active, vital, healthy downtown.  

"It is basically the “heart” of the community," she continued. "Mena Downtown Partners is striving to make this heart even stronger.  For a great number of years, a  downtown drew people because it was the only place to shop, do business and have fun.  Of course, now with shopping centers, large discounters and online shopping, it is more difficult to get people to downtown."

Thompson said one of MDP's objectives is to help make downtown businesses successful by providing fun activities to draw people downtown.

"MDP will be having a mini-retreat shortly to plan more activities, including holiday events," Thompson noted. "We are also working with other organizations to find out things that work to make downtowns more successful and ways to draw in both locals and tourists."

For a Mena Downtown Partners membership form or for more information, contact Rick Chrisman at American Artisans, 479-394-1112, located at 615 Mena Street.

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