More than 300 people explored the spas and salons in bustling downtown Glen Ellyn, Illinois, for the Chicago suburb’s second annual Spa Hop in early February 2012. The event was organized to boost the local economy, enhance community spirit and promote wellness among its residents. “It’s a great way to let people know what we’re about,” says Jori Appleberry, a stylist at Namasté Salon in Glen Ellyn.
Meeting a need
Once the center for community and economic activity, downtown areas have suffered the loss of a variety of businesses to big-box stores and commercial strip malls during the past decades. Glen Ellyn’s downtown business district, with its independent retailer base, is one such community that faces enormous competition, ranging from other suburban shopping options to urban retailers in metro Chicago. To help offset this competition, the village—along with its merchants and chamber of commerce—came together in 2006 to create a central business district retail partnership known as the Alliance of Downtown Glen Ellyn. Its purpose is to develop events that bring exposure to local businesses. However, traditional events that were bringing shoppers to the area weren’t bringing foot traffic into the local spas.
Alliance executive director Carol White had been trying for several years to figure out how to help more people discover the benefits of the area’s skin care and salon businesses. According to White, “Economic data indicates that the sign of a thriving downtown is one that has a lot of successful spas and salons. But people are often shy about trying new spas, not knowing the atmosphere or the people.”