Goetz, a former mayor of the city, took the duty of retail recruiter at the request of current Mayor Sonny Posey in an effort to increase activity and community participation to the downtown area, as well as attracting retailers to Jasper.
Goetz said the first of 50 to 60 of the planned downtown events, last weekend’s yard sale, averaged between 75 to 200 individuals per hour, with 24 vendors participating in the event.
“Our idea came from the City of Scottsboro, which has experienced a great amount of success with it throughout the years and it’s something we hope can become just as successful here,” Goetz said. “Hopefully more businesses will open downtown who can take advantage of the increased volume of traffic brought on by the yard sale and other events.”
Other upcoming events include “Downtown at Sundown”, where a band performs live music and area restaurants have special meal rates that are coordinated with the event, Kids’ Day Downtown that will feature activities geared toward children, a smaller version of the popular “Foothills Festival” and an Alabama and Auburn Day — where former players of both teams sign autographs and meet fans.
Another special event Goetz touted was the “Kids’ Fourth of July Parade,” where area children can participate in a traditional and festive ride of their own to commemorate the nation’s birthday.
“Children would have the opportunity to decorate their bikes, wagons, animals, etc. and begin their own parade on the normal 19th Street route,” Goetz said. “When they finish, there would be an area set up for a special treat. It will allow our kids to participate in their own unique way that I believe they’ll enjoy and always remember.”
Goetz said the current economic climate presents concerns and challenges in the effort to bring more businesses to the city.
“The Southeastern portion of our country seems to be the last in any economic cycle, but we are beginning to see some increased activity,” Goetz said. “It’s a difficult time in retail, but I believe there are definite positive signs on the horizon.”
The opening of a Cracker Barrel and a Full Moon BBQ are always frequent questions posed to Goetz by concerned citizens. Goetz said that both projects are still on, but have experienced delays of varying degrees.
“Cracker Barrel has a habit of changing their minds often. I met with one of their representatives last year who informed me that it is a done deal — but the timetable he gave me has came and passed. But they are anticipating that they will open this fall. Cracker Barrel as a company has a policy that they only perform construction from March to November, so their construction time would fall in line with that policy.” Goetz said.
“Full Moon BBQ is still on as well. They encountered a problem with a turning lane at one point, but it looks like that will be taken care of.”
Goetz also said that a small business loan has been secured to build a new Wendy’s in the city and selecting a location for the store is currently being weighed.
Other positive signs Goetz currently has witnessed in the renewed retail activity has led him to believe that this will be a better year for the city.
“There are some exciting things going on in the horizon. I can’t mention names at this point, but when businesses begin to come, others will follow to compete.” Goetz said. “I think we can all feel a great reason for optimism.”