The Tomball Economic Development Corp. will spend $1,500 to have the Texas Downtown Association assess downtown Tomball, TEDC Executive Director Kelly Violette said in an interview Sept. 11. The assessment stems from the TEDC recommendations following a Sept. 5 workshop meeting on the downtown Shop and Stroll events.

“They’ll do a digital assessment repor,t and that will include two things,” Violette said. “It’ll be like a snapshot of our downtown from the Texas Downtown Association’s perspective. And then it will include short-, mid- and long-range objectives to enhance the vitality of downtown and improve and continue to work towards that idea of a [downtown] association.”

How we got here

Working with the TDA and supporting the creation of a downtown business owners group were two of the TEDC’s recommendations following a presentation about downtown’s Shop and Stroll events during a City Council workshop meeting Sept. 5.

During the workshop meeting, Violette’s presentation touched on the history of the Shop and Stroll events organized by local business owners, results from a merchant survey, results from a cellphone analysis for each Shop and Stroll, and recommendations going forward.

Diving in deeper

The TEDC provided over $35,000 in grant money to help pay for part of eight Shop and Stroll events over the course of 2022-23, according to Violette's presentation. The grants were performance based, which meant the events took place first before the TEDC reimbursed the costs. The grant money was used to pay for digital marketing efforts and marketing materials such as yard signs, cups and postcards.

The TEDC also worked with consultants who collected cellphone data of each Shop and Stroll event held between June 2022-July 2023 to analyze the unique visitors—people who visited downtown Tomball at least once and are only counted once per event, Violette said.

There could be repeat people counted but not in the same day, Violette said.

According to Violette’s presentation during the Sept. 5 workshop meeting:

  • The St. Patrick’s Day Shop and Stroll event held March 11 was the highest attended.
  • At least 4,000 people attended each Shop and Stroll event.

What else?

Along with doing an assessment of downtown Tomball, the TDA will also help with creating the structure for a downtown business owners association.

“It’ll be part of their recommendations for implementation,” Violette said. “So the first part of it is going to be the analysis of downtown, and then that would be one of the implementation steps—to create a downtown association. And they have indicated that they can help us with drafting bylaws and really give us some guidance on structure, what they think would work best for our downtown.”

Violette also said a downtown association could serve as the group to promote and organize things for downtown alongside serving as a sounding board for business owners’ ideas, concerns and challenges.

“It really would be a great resource, really, because right now, you talk to individual business owners and property owners,” Violette said. “There’s not a unified voice.”

What they’re saying

During the Sept. 5 workshop meeting, several downtown business owners spoke about having a downtown association and the Shop and Stroll events during the meeting’s public comment period.

  • “It is important that we have a formal committee of business owners to be established so that we have a voice on how our businesses are promoted and represented in the public eye,” Jayden Lane Boutique owner Brittani Johnson said.
  • “All these [Shop and Stroll] events are great. They’ve been good for both our restaurants,” said Scott Moore, owner of Tejas Chocolate & Barbecue on Elm Street and Tejas Burger Joint on Main Street. “The thing I like about this [the Shop and Stroll] event is that it’s focused on putting bodies in stores and restaurants.”
  • “I hope [the Shop and Stroll event] continues, however that goes,” Graze owner Tatia George said. “If it’s a committee, that’s great, and I would formally ask to be on that committee. Other than that, it’s a great event for the city.”
  • “There’s something about these [Shop and Stroll] events that is obviously very good for the small businesses in this community,” Terrarium owner Bridget Gould said. “Personally, post-COVID[-19], these events saved my business.”

Stay tuned

Violette said she anticipates the TDA will begin its assessment of downtown Tomball sometime in November.