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While Charlotte John is busy talking about plans for the Heights Merchants Association's upcoming third Thursday Happy Hour in the Heights, a local steps into John's real estate office on Kavanaugh Boulevard, asking if he can take one of John's maps with him. The map he requested was designed by John, and copies are handed out to trolley riders during Happy Hour.
"At least once a week, people stop by and ask for a map," John says, sounding more pleased with the request than annoyed by the brief interruption. In fact, John is all about promoting the Heights shopping district. She has spearheaded the design of a map noting each of the district's businesses "There are about 120 businesses," she says. John is the owner of the Charlotte John Co.
Armed with that knowledge and the desire to bring shoppers to the "heart of the city," John is working to organize her business neighbors into a cohesive force.
"I knew Shop and Sip, the monthly event held in Hillcrest on the first Thursday of every month, was a big hit," So she was enthused about talking with businesses up and down Kavanaugh about trying to organize a similar event to bring the Heights business district together. The first Happy Hour in the Heights was held in January with 18 businesses to participating.
Heather Smith, the co-owner of Eggshells, is currently serving as the Heights Merchants Association president. Smith says that despite the cold start in January and a hotter-than-usual summer, "The numbers continue to grow." In August, 48 businesses stayed open late while several hundred people strolled up and down the boulevard.
Smith sees the Happy Hour as a social gathering and a way for merchants to say, "We appreciate your loyalty. It's like every third Thursday is customer appreciation day."
The Heights Merchants Association members are not content with just having a Happy Hour once a month, they plan to have other events to bring merchants and neighborhood residents together. "Chili Fights in the Heights" slated for Saturday, Oct. 16. is an example of one such event.
While the merchants association has only met a handful of times and has yet to write its bylaws, Smith says, "We want to heighten the sense of community in the Heights and distinguish ourselves as a destination."