The summer months mean many things, but to many bustling American cities, they mean festivals. The warm weather beckons festival-goers out of their homes and into streets filled with vendors, entertainment, and plenty of local flavors.
Lots of festival attendees mean high profits for the event itself, but also for those businesses located in the surrounding areas. Festival foot traffic often results in higher visibility and (hopefully) more purchases.
In Rochester, NY, home of Paychex corporate headquarters, that sentiment rings true all summer long. The Flower City is widely known for its growing number of festivals, celebrating everything from the fine arts and crafts to music to unique forms of theater and comedy. The bottom line is there's something for everyone. Admission is generally free, but the economic benefits for the area are plenty.
According to the official event website, each year an estimated 150,000-175,000 people attend the Corn Hill Arts Festival. Having just celebrated its 47th year, it's one of the city's oldest and most popular summer traditions. The event takes place in Rochester's historic Corn Hill neighborhood and this year featured 400 juried artists and 28 live musical performances.
Most local shops and restaurants - like Tony D's Coal Fired Pizza - held extended hours to accommodate festival goers. Tony D's, which typically opens at 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, opened its doors four hours early in order to serve a bustling lunch crowd.
Another one of Rochester's most charming neighborhoods plays host to the Park Ave Summer Arts Festival. More commonly known simply as Park Ave Fest, it takes place in early August and celebrates just over a mile stretch of trendy Park Avenue. Vendors pack the streets, which are lined with some of the city's most popular boutiques, restaurants, and galleries.
Daniel Mejak, operations manager at one of Park Avenue's most celebrated and recognizable storefronts - Parkleigh - says the Park Ave Fest is all about bringing the outside fun inside the shop. Located on the corner of Park Avenue and Goodman Street, Parkleigh is in an ideal location for passersby.
"It's not our everyday customer who's here," Mejak says. "Many are visitors from out of town, so we try to put on our best showing. We are extra fun and hospitable because if this is their first or only time they've been in the store, we want to make sure they remember us before they go."
Parkleigh, which has been in business for over a half century, typically produces a treasure map of sale items as a handout for new customers to follow and discover hidden gems. It's an approach that welcomes people in and gets them interacting with the merchandise right away. Mejak says they also tend to play inviting dance music throughout that weekend and have a full staff on hand to assist a never-ending stream of customers.
"Our entire staff is here for two days of madness," he says. "Everybody knows well in advance that it's mandatory to work that weekend.
"We definitely see a significant uptick in sales," Mejak adds. "How can you not when a quarter million people come through Park Avenue in two days?"