by: Katherine Hardwick in Art Walk, Events, Marketing & Promotions No Comments  

unnamedI’m going to let you in on a little secret. Regardless of what your lady-friend says, every woman appreciates thoughtful gestures even OR especially on Valentine’s Day.

You love her because she’s one-of-a-kind, so show her with a gift that celebrates her unique style and a night on the town she’ll always remember. Trust me, you’ll get points for planning ahead.

Gift Ideas

  • Keep it simple and shower her with a bouquet of sweet-smelling flowers from Fresh Market OR make her laugh with a gift of Poo-porri “before-you-go” toilet spray from Grease Rags Clothing Company.

Plus, on Valentine’s Day between 1-3 p.m. Chamblin’s Uptown is offering a Book Lover’s discount. Purchase a book …or ten and get a Mimosa on Chamblin’s!

And for those last-minute shoppers, don’t miss spoiling your Valentine with local chocolates from the new Peterbrooke pop-up shop on Bay Street. No surprise we recommend the super-cute Downtown skyline chocolate bars!

by: Katherine Hardwick in Downtown Shout-outs No Comments  

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What a great Downtown shout-out in the current issue of Folio Weekly! Here’s an excerpt from Michael Dunlap Is Thankful for Artists’ Collaboration:

“I am grateful that the Downtown core has made substantial progress over the last decade; for example, Art Walk is celebrating 10 years of success. Constituent elements of a great Downtown are falling into place: a diverse 24/7 urban core, vibrant street life, a cross section of housing (with price ranges for all), many new cafés, strong nightlife on Bay Street, 43,000 parking spaces (more than four Disney World parks), a spattering of retail, and major business investment. Shad Khan’s investment in the Laura Street Trio will change everything, not to mention the $20 million investment in the Haydon Burns Library adaptive re-use by the Jessie Ball duPont Fund.”

DVI is thankful for all our artists and entrepreneurs, creators and voices, investors and doers in Downtown Jacksonville who are essential to this progress! Visit Michael and his fellow collaborators, and celebrate the visual arts in Jacksonville at Southlight Gallery.

by: Katherine Hardwick in Spotlight No Comments  

There’s a flourishing district within a district in our Downtown that you may not be aware of. A creative cluster of marketing agencies, photography and illustration studios and design firms has sprung up within The Elbow, Downtown’s nightlife and entertainment district.

One staple of this creative district is The Connect Agency, owned and operated by veteran marketer and DVI board member, John Ream. Take some time to talk to John about his Downtown experience and you’ll learn that his slice of Downtown—a beautiful brick building along Bay Street—has proven just as flexible as his agency’s approach to marketing and communications solutions.

John bought the building in 2005 at 131 E. Bay Street, during the excitement and anticipation leading up to the Super Bowl. Looking past the plaster walls, drop down ceilings and green shag carpet while touring the space, he was drawn to the brick walls, wooden beams and floors that lay beneath. Creative by nature, he envisioned what the space could become. And, during the Super Bowl, John sold barbeque, beer and wine out of the first floor to help generate revenue for the renovations.

For three years, John and his family lived in the contemporary, urban space. For a time he rented out the first floor to a shop called Foolish Boutique, which operates nowadays as Icon Boutique just three blocks away. Living Downtown, John would bump into all kinds of activities. “Until you live here, you don’t know all there is to do,” he says. And as someone who enjoys exploring, the lively lifestyle was a perfect fit.

In 2009, John formed his own marketing agency and reinvented the space to house his office. Specializing in strategy and a client-customized approach, John looks to the creative district and Downtown environment to keep his ideas fresh. A short walk to one of the cultural venues, like Southlight Gallery, to take in some art provides a fresh perspective. A lunchtime jog along the riverfront relieves stress. Being steps away from various Happy Hour options doesn’t hurt either.

And about working near other creative shops? He enjoys the all the shoptalk and believes sharing insights and trends helps to knock down silos in which firms often work. According to John, the Madison Avenue model of large advertising agencies is changing. Small shops like Connect Agency, and others in the creative district offer great flexibility, and “mind share” collaboration creates a better product for their clients.

John at work in his flexible, creative office space.

His clients are often surprised on their first trip to the agency: ‘They often say, “I never knew space like this existed Downtown.”’ They enjoy the energy and nostalgia of Downtown. They like the perks of a walkable business district, and the options of lunch places that you can’t find anywhere else, like Chomp Chomp.

With eight years of Downtown experience under his belt—as a Downtown property owner, small business owner and resident—John believes we’re on the cusp of something big. One key for Downtown’s success will be The Elbow, with its bars and restaurants and live music is creating a great entertainment culture Downtown. Another will be connecting all of the areas of activity. And at the end of the day, word-of-mouth marketing for Downtown, the kind we can all do, is crucial. “It takes the people who are already Downtown sharing their experiences to bring more people Downtown,” he says.

Stay tuned as we share more spotlights from the creative district, and help spread the word on Downtown by sharing your favorite experiences here.