Downtown Phoenix

A photo of the Flowers building on Fifth and Roosevelt Streets taken in May, 2016. (Photo by Samantha Pouls)

May 4, 2016

Samantha Pouls

Downtown Phoenix businesses benefit from pedestrian traffic

Photo by Samantha Pouls

Ten years ago, downtown Phoenix was a ghost town. Fast forward to 2016, and the area is ripe with local businesses, apartment complexes and art studios. The rise of local entities has created the question of how to attract people to each store.

In order to attract pedestrians to the many local spots throughout the city, establishments have begun placing unique signs outside of their business.

“I think considering that we’re located in a house and it’s not blatantly obvious what we are, the sign lets people know we’re here,” said Hannah Bachinski barista at the Songbird Coffee and Tea House located at 812 N 3 St.

These signs are not overly vibrant, but rather they are simple stand-up signs placed on the street. Typically they state the businesses’ name in bold letters. However, establishments have recently begun asking local artists to design a sign that will stand out from the rest.

“It’s definitely a creative process. We didn’t buy the sign, we had a local artist make it for us and we gave him a sandwich. It wasn’t something we spent a lot of time thinking about,” said Jason Ayers who works at Flowers Craft Beer and Wine located at 501 E. Roosevelt St.

Yet, while the signs may let people know what type of store they are passing, it does not necessarily increase the foot traffic in the area.

“It’s the other way around,” said Mike Cosentino employee at Flowers Craft Beer and Wine. “The sign outside is a reaction to all the foot traffic that is already here. People just get drawn in by the signs.”

Downtown Phoenix is home to Roosevelt Row, a vibrant art district with unique paintings and shops. The area draws in many locals and tourists and stretches from 7th avenue to 16th street. The area, which was once home to boarded up homes, attracts local artists who are able to renovate these worn-down spaces into art galleries and boutiques.

“I know that the signs are effective because there is a sign that’s right outside for a head shop that is down the street,” Ayres said. “I can’t tell you how many people come in here and ask where the store is.”

While these creative signs are popping up around town and are helpful for businesses that may not be on a main street, the signs are not the only things attracting pedestrians to these hot spots.

“We have a neon sign and hand painted signs on the side of the building, which attracts people to come in,” Ayres said.

While downtown Phoenix is full of students and pedestrians in the fall and spring, summer is an entirely different ball game.

“Business dies in the summer, and that’s pretty much state wide,” Bachinski said. “I’ve been in the coffee business for a decade, and pretty much everywhere I have ever worked dies in the summer; especially because a lot of our customers are students.”

Today downtown Phoenix has a population of 1.6 million people and is projected to be the fourth largest city by 2020. However, the summer months are still brutal. With temperatures exceeding 100 degrees, Phoenix becomes somewhat of ghost town during the summer months. However, once students begin arriving back in town in August, the rate picks up again.

“I think the signs are essential for letting people know there is something new around. They’re affective, but they’re not the only attraction point,” Ayres said.