Old Town Association plans Autumn in Old Town

On Sept. 13, the Old Town Association of Cottonwood met for its annual retreat at The Manheim Gallery in Old Town. Present were all current members: Lisa Pender of Rendezvous in Old Town (President), Annabel Sclippa of The Annabel Inn B&B (Vice President), Trecia Taylor of the Orion Bread Company (Treasurer), Nick Hunseder of Nick of Time Productions (Secretary), Susie Beach of Beachs on Location, Patt Manheim of The Manheim Gallery, and Kevin Grubb of Arizona Stronghold Vineyards.

Also present were Casey Rooney of the Cottonwood Economic Development Council, and later the newly elected Board Members Carla Wykoff of Bent River Books & Music, and Lawrence Cohen of Larry's Antiques joined in. A few Old Town merchants, and some Friends of the Old Town Association, were also present for parts of the meeting.

The Board met for three hours, reviewing the budget and the bylaws, hearing local merchants' promotion ideas, streamlining communication avenues, notating website updates and ideas, electing the two new Board Members, presenting ideas for a new Association structure beginning Jan. 1, 2012, and presenting their own Marketing Strategy for 2012. The Board unanimously agreed to increase Vice President Sclippa's Marketing and PR budget to $7,000 in an effort to promote the greater number of merchants served and events promoted.

Treasurer Taylor said, "Specifically, this is a great opportunity for us as the OTA to offer more integrated efforts by subsidizing some of the merchants PR costs and make promotions more available to more of our members. Overall this allows Old Town a more prominent and effective presence."

The Marketing strategy consists of six themes, which will rotate two months each during the year, to represent all of the approximately 85 Old Town merchants. Sclippa said, "It was a challenge to cover all ground with everything from attorneys and clock repair to boutiques and antiques, but I think we've got it with the categories of: First Established (antiques, native culture), Trips (lodging, packages), Functions of Today (services, repairs), Unique (boutiques, gift shops), Taste of (all tasting rooms), Depth of Taste & Character (restaurants, bookstores). I've also tried to place these themes within months that coordinate with existing events, help promote slow seasons, and help to replenish local business owners and their businesses after rush seasons."

And the overall character of this campaign? "Americans and foreigners alike appreciate good ol' Main Street America," Sclippa continued. "We want to remind folks who already know, and surprise those who don't, that Old Town Cottonwood is still Mom & Pop, every single shop, and has rich history, is surrounded by abundant nature and rivers, and is capped off with a thriving wine industry." She emphasized that her marketing plan includes both repetitively promoting the Board's recently revived Old Town logo, which is a copy of the OTA sign currently adorning the outside wall of the Old Town Jail, and announcing all events along Historic 89A, including OTA events and those presented by the City.

This liaison between entities has been a strong factor in the revival of Old Town. OTA President Lisa Pender commented, "The OTA has worked diligently and closely with the City, Chamber, CEDC, Wine Consortium and others. It has been a joy these last few years to work with everyone and see the development of Old Town through a collaborative effort."

Lana Tolleson, director of the Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce said, "In the 2 1/2 years that I have been with the Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce, I have been pleased to see the continued efforts of the Old Town Association to promote Historic Old Town Cottonwood through various marketing efforts, press releases and events."

Upcoming events along Historic 89A include the Oct. 1 Great AZ Grape Stomp 5K Run, followed by a Painted Barrel Trail Tour.

For the 5K Run registration, contact Casey Rooney crooney@ci.cottonwood.as.us.

Even if you are not in for the run, from 10-2 on the 1st meander Old Town and enjoy a tour of the Painted Barrels. At each stop collect that barrel artist's card. Once you have five, head over to The Annabel Inn at 611 N 7th St. and she'll sign you up to enter a Staycation drawing. The winner wins one night at The Inn, plus a basket full of goodies from other Old Town painted barrel hosts: Crema Cafe, Rendezvous in Old Town, Verde Valley Olive Oil Traders, The Wine Cellar, Pillsbury Wine Company North, Art Glitter Institute, Old Town Center for the Arts, and The Manheim Gallery. Painted Barrel Trail information can be found on vvwinetrail.com/artistdays.html.

Other Old Town events this fall include the Oct. 31 Fall Harvest, Nov 12. Walkin' On Main, and Dec. 3 Chocolate Walk. For more details on any of these events or to see what the Old Town Association is up to in general, visit their website at www.oldtown.org.

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