Saturday, September 9, 2017

Commerce and Community

Many of the initiatives discussed in City Hall having to do with festivals and events--changing the requirements for mass gathering permits, routing parades on streets other than Warren Street, eliminating City sponsorship of events--stem from the perception that these events interfere with the retail businesses on Warren Street--both shops and restaurants--that are driving Hudson's new vitality. It is in the context of this perception that I share an email Gossips received from a Warren Street merchant the day after publishing the report about the Common Council Arts, Entertainment & Tourism Committee meeting.  
I heard a rumor that I hope is not true. Perhaps you can do some investigation. According to the source, The Opera House (aka Hudson Hall) is NOT doing Winter Walk this year. This will be a huge loss for our business but, more importantly, for Hudson. It is the one event that brings people together every year and is the kick off to the holiday shopping season. Once the event is gone it will be hard to get it back.
Fortunately, the rumor is not true. Hudson Hall has already announced Winter Walk 2017--the 21st Winter Walk--on its website and has begun soliciting local food vendors, performers, and volunteers to take part in the festive evening. 

The basis of the rumor may be the exchange that took place at the AET Committee meeting, when, while discussing the possibility of withdrawing City funding for festivals and events in favor of funding a "community day," Alderman Rick Rector (First Ward) posited, "Winter Walk will go on regardless," and Tambra Dillon, co-director of Hudson Hall, shot back, "That's not true." It seems possible, were the City to withdraw its support, there might be no Winter Walk beyond 2017.

The contribution Winter Walk has made and continues to make--both in bringing the people of Hudson together and in bringing thousands of people to Hudson to discover and patronize our shops and restaurants--is irrefutable. Winter Walk has demonstrated that it deserves robust and continuing support from the City of Hudson. The notion that the City might withdraw its support from this event and others that contribute to the character of our community is unthinkable.


  1. As each year goes by with Winter Walk I notice that more and more of the Warren St. merchants are not even open on Winter Walk night. Anyone else agree?

  2. Winter Walk has always been the year-end event which brought together visitors and members of our community during the holiday season. I believe in recent years, it has lost of some its allure for many as being tired and redundant of years past. Maybe its time to rethink the celebration and try to bring in new people to volunteer and help organize the event, thereby introducing new ideas and features to rejuvenate Winter Walk and expand its draw. As a business person on Warren Street I think weekend events are the life blood of Hudson's retail commerce. Anything that draws new people to visit and explore Warren Street and Hudson as a whole is good for the continued growth of Hudson tourism. If we can increase traffic on Warren Street, the increased traffic will attract more diversified retail business, adding to the quality of life of Hudson. When the retail traffic is weak, the only businesses that can survive are high-end retailers and dining establishments who are able to make enough profit on each transaction so as to compensate for the lack of volume of customers. Don't get me wrong, high-end restaurants and retailers have been an important element of Hudson renaissance of the past two decades and I hope they continue to flourish on Warren Street. But for Hudson to continue to grow, we also need to have offerings for people of more modest means and for families. Let's expand festivals and events in Hudson, keep Warren Street bustling with people looking to have an enjoyable time and happily parting with some of their money. Smart retailers know how to capitalize on Winter Walk.

    Personally, I think it is great that we have more and more lodging accommodations in Hudson. Now we have to insure we garner the volume of visitors necessary to fill the rooms.

    My dream would to have a crowd drawing event or festival every weekend in Hudson, filling the streets, lodging, restaurants and retail stores. Generating revenue for businesses as well as sales and lodging tax revenue for the city. This will keep property taxes down, thereby helping keep rents down and allowing more people to afford to live in Hudson and maintain our cherished diversity.

  3. Oh my! A festival every weekend! That would be a lot to organize. I wonder how much the City contributes to Winter Walk.

    1. As I indicated in an earlier post, this year, the City is contributing $5,000 to Winter Walk, which does not take into account the support from HPD, DPW, and the Fire Police.

  4. I think if people want other parades and festivals to take place off Warren Street, then Winter Walk should be moved too!