Volunteer group works to keep Bisbee on tourists’ radar (copy)

The eclectic town of Bisbee is a popular stop for tourists. The town and its small businesses are in the running for a $500,000 makeover through a contest.

BIBSEE — The eclectic, historic mining town of Bisbee has made it on many Top 10 lists and now it is on one which could bring a $500,000 makeover and be the focus of the Small Business Revolution (SBR), an online show sponsored by the Deluxe Corporation.

Deluxe is a company which has grown far beyond its original purpose of providing checks for businesses and personal bank accounts. It now includes marketing, design and promotional products, with a focus on small business.

SBR is a way for small towns and their underserved businesses to be recognized, explained Jenna Paulus, Deluxe public relations manager.

In order to determine if Bisbee rates the next cut to the Top 5, Paulus and Erica Adams, marketing and communications strategist, visited some of the shops in Old Bisbee on Dec. 3 to talk with the owners and obtain the information needed for the final cut.

Paulus said the company launched the hunt in October and received some 6,000 requests for the half-million dollar makeover. Of all those, the Deluxe executive team rated Bisbee in the Top 10 and in the running against Benicia, California; Brunswick, Georgia; Livingston, Montana; Spearfish, South Dakota; Waseca, Minnesota; Fredonia, New York; Oregon City, Oregon; The Dalles, Oregon; and Xenia, Ohio.

Teams were sent to all those cities and from the information gathered, the names of the Top 5 will be announced early January. Then, for one week, people will get to vote on their favorite. On Jan. 28, filming will begin at six chosen businesses in the town selected, said Paulus.

Adams said, “We choose the small town where there is the most room to for us to make an impact.”

Paulus added, “We want to draw attention to the small town businesses so important to the economy of smaller communities.”

They met with civic leaders and community members, interviewed business owners and learned how their marketing expertise can benefit the community.

Adams noted, “Bisbee is very picturesque and incredibly charming. I especially like the walkability of the town.”

One of the shops they visited was Art Home, a small business started by Aviva Rae Trustman and John Frazier in a tiny shop on Main Street. They are in the realty business and carry brightly colored furniture crafted by David Marsh. A year ago, their success allowed them to move into a large gallery, formerly Metamorphosis, right across the street from the old shop. And, the best part, according to Trustman, is they own the building. They do not have employees and take turns at minding the store.

“It’s been fun having all this space,” Trustman said.

After a chat with Trustman, the team walked down to the Teeny Tiny Toy Store, located at 15 Main St., and artist Mark Logan. He began his business years ago in the teeny tiny shop, but moved away after the recession and tried to find greener pastures elswhere. Now he’s back in the same place he started. He creates one-of-a-kind dolls and critters, all by hand and all sewn on his small, 1948 Necchi Bu sewing machine. So far, he has made 8,654 dolls — all are numbered — from a design he creates in his mind. He does not sketch them first.

He said it was hard to get the attention of the people walking by and most visitors who do come in, do so because of the Flying Leap Vineyards Tasting Room located next door to his shop.

Logan told the team, his problem was getting people to come to his shop in a building shared with other businesses. Most of the people who walk up the stairs and through the front door are looking for the Flying Leap Vineyards Tasting Room, right next to his shop, which has a sign hanging outside.

He does market his dolls online on his website and through Etsy, but hoped his store would draw more visitors.

A couple of things Paulus and Adams noticed right off was the small space he had to work with, which may stop people from coming in. They suggested placing the dolls in price order on the walls.

Logan also emphasized the lack of visitors during the summer when people could come down and enjoy more moderate temperatures in Bisbee than the 100-plus-degree summer days in Phoenix and Tucson. Visitation falls May through October, when the Bisbee 1000: The Great Stair Climb is held.

“Business just dies in the summer,” he lamented. “And, we’re 10 to 15 degrees cooler.”

His idea is to have a digital billboard on Interstate 10 coming out of Phoenix and Tucson promoting the city.

The show provides marketing and business expertise for small businesses in the selected small town. The series features marketing experts from Deluxe, led by Chief Brand & Content Officer, Amanda Brinkman, and co-host and renovation icon Ty Pennington as they provide business advice to selected entrepreneurs in the winning community.

For more information on Deluxe Corp. and SBR, visit the websites: https://www.deluxe.com/ and https://www.deluxe.com/small-business-revolution/.

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