Wednesday, October 27, 2021

North End Project Brings Awareness to Off-Square Shopping

It’s a proven fact there is strength in numbers. And that’s what is going on with Oxford’s “North End” project, a mutual joining of several small businesses along the strip of North Lamar between Price Street and Three-Way.

Laura Reid owns Engagements Bridal and Formal Wear on North Lamar and is the mastermind behind the North End Project.
Laura Reid owns Engagements Bridal and Formal Wear on North Lamar and is the mastermind behind the North End Project.

Laura Reid, owner of Engagements Bridal & Formal Wear, located at 1007-2 North Lamar, conceived the idea for a local coalition, a partnership between her small business and other entrepreneurs along North Lamar.
“We bounced around several names trying to give an identity to the name to help reinforce the area,” Reid said. “We thought well…it’s the north end of town, North Lamar, and we wanted something that was easy to say and remember. Dallas has an area called the ‘West End,’ so we decided on, simply, the ‘North End.’”
Reid came up with the idea after being approached by several local publications wanting her to advertise with them.
“Each publication had its own unique set of readers,” she said. “And of course, I wanted to reach them, but to put an ad in every magazine just wasn’t realistic. So, I had that in my head, trying to come up with a way to combine resources with some of the other small business owners.”
During local events, like football weekends and Double Decker, Reid noticed the increased popularity of marketing like “Fashions by Downtown Oxford. Since her store is not located downtown, Reid, like other store owners near her, where left out of the promotion.
“But they really couldn’t say, fashions by the ‘Downtown Council’ and Engagements,” she said. “If we were an entity just like the ‘Downtown Council’, then the Chamber and different tourism organizations could promote us as a whole, rather than appear they were just choosing certain merchants.”
Reid also noticed that each time she promoted her own business, she was really promoting the entire area, as well. North Lamar was a very attractive area when she was looking to open her store. It was close to the center of town, yet shoppers could avoid all the traffic on the Square.
“There’s front door parking all the time, the streets aren’t crowded,” she said. “The Square is a wonderful location and it’s worth it for a lot of businesses, but when you’re new, it’s hard to have that much tied up in your monthly obligations. Plus, it’s really convenient out here.”
Reid said she relates the North Lamar area to a small town with in the town.
“From the fire station to The Green Door,” she said, “whatever your to-do list is for the day, whether it’s buying milk, getting something altered, dropping off a tux, picking up a dress, or getting your car serviced, a person can do it all within that strip of North Lamar.”
Reid began talking with the owners of The Green Door and Lammons Jewelry about co-marketing, which ultimately lead to talk about forming an association.
“We could go in together and buy bigger ads, listing our businesses. That would reinforce our location, because a lot of people don’t know we’re here,” Reid said. “It’s really not the beaten path; however, it is becoming a more traveled area. There’s so much on this street that a person can do just about anything here and stay out of the traffic.”
The first joined effort of the North End was an ad in Delta Magazine.
“I live in Grenada and I began working with a guy there that does graphic design to come up with a logo that we could use to give an identity to the North End,” she said.
Most of the businesses along North Lamar helped pay for the joint ad in Delta Magazine, but Reid said the group was still looking for ways to identify that area as a unit.
Lauron Mills, owner of Monarch Boutique, and Reid discuss advertising strategy for the North End Project.
Lauron Mills, owner of Monarch Boutique, and Reid discuss advertising strategy for the North End Project.

Lauron Mills owns the Monarch Boutique, next door to Engagements Bridal. Mills sees quite a few benefits for small business owners on North Lamar if the North End project comes to fruition.
“Everyone around here, especially the students is geared to go straight to the Square, because that’s all they know,” she said, “When I was growing up, there were maybe three businesses out here, Windshield Magician, The Beacon and Handy Andy’s.  But now that North Lamar is getting more and more businesses out this way; I think it definitely needs to be known that we’re here. And by promoting the ‘North End’ we can bring awareness of that fact to the people of Oxford and anyone visiting our city.”
– Angela Rogalski, contributing writing for HT.com, abbeangel@yahoo.com

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