Midtown — Reno’s eclectic shopping and dining district south of Downtown — is building a calendar of special events.
Midtown’s latest event, the Reno Rodeo Parade, relocated to Midtown this year for its June 18 showcase down Virginia Street.
“More organizations want to do events in Midtown,” Eric Madison, president of Roofdog LLC., and a board member of MidTown District Reno, said in an interview earlier this month at The CUBE @ Midtown. “We didn’t contact the Rodeo, the Rodeo came to us.”
Madison said Midtown better represents the local flavor of the rodeo than Downtown, which is more of a tourist destination.
“Midtown has an independent ‘don’t tell me what to do’ attitude,” he said. “That may be why the Rodeo Parade is coming here. It represents Reno of old.”
Paul Doege, president of MidTown District Reno and owner of Recycled Records, said the parade had a decent turnout for its first run in Midtown.
“I think they were happy,” he said of the rodeo organizers during a phone interview.
Doege said his business had a small bump in customers, but bringing people into the shops isn’t the point of special events in the district.
“The purpose isn’t for people to go into businesses. They’re here for another reason — to watch the parade,” he said. “It’s more about exposure than sales.
“The Art Walk is a perfect example,” he said of Midtown’s biggest event. “People are out and about (looking at artists’ work). They don’t want to be lugging packages around.”
The MidTown Art Walk, organized by Living Stones Church, is held in July to tie into Reno is Artown events.
“Two years ago there were 3,000 at the Midtown Art Walk,” Madison said. “Last year there were 7,000. It’s growing every year.”
The seventh annual Midtown Art Walk, a free event, will be held July 28 from 4-9 p.m. and showcase 90-plus businesses within a mile stretch of Reno’s Midtown District that will be paired with local artists to showcase their work. Four stages scattered along Virginia Street will feature a variety of entertainers including the Reno Philharmonic.
“What distinguishes the Midtown Art Walk from Reno’s other many events is that it seeks to revitalize and celebrate the offerings of the city and promote local arts of all kinds,” states the Midtown Art Walk website.
Every May 1, Midtown hosts another annual event: the Midtown Birthday Party and Sidewalk Sale.
It began as the anniversary of the opening of Junkee Clothing Exchange, owned by Jessica Schneider.
“It became the de facto Midtown birthday,” Madison said.
“Jessica started the birthday party,” Doege said. “A lot was already in place (when other shops in Midtown joined the party).”
He said the Birthday Party is an example of an event that worked better because it started with one business putting all the elements together.
Schneider “works really hard at that kind of thing.”
In winter, Midtown businesses participate en masse in Black Friday sales that has an eclectic character for which Midtown is known.
Last year, participating stores had people in Santa suits, Doege said, “artsy kinds of Santas.”
The search for new events to introduce new people to Midtown continues.
District business owners are looking at the successes in the Riverwalk District. The regular Riverwalk Wine Walks pay for most of the advertising for that district, Doege said.
Funds to promote Midtown come from dues from members to the MidTown District Reno. They hope to find an event that will provide a money stream.
“We’re looking into ideas,” Doege said.
For business owners like Tim Carter of Carter Bros Ace Hardware, more events introducing new people to the unique businesses in Midtown is the goal.
“Anything that drives traffic into Midtown is great,” Carter said.
Jacob Warwick, CEO of Discover Podium, says the company that launched only a year ago in Reno recently surpassed $1 million in revenue and has big plans for growth in the coming months.