Thursday, November 06, 2008

Time to Plan Your Holiday Parties in Downtown Elgin

‘Tis the season. Yes, already.

I wouldn’t believe it myself if I hadn’t seen the city workers putting up holiday decorations around Downtown this week.

Though the holidays seem to come earlier every year, to tell you the truth, we could use a little holiday cheer about now in Downtown Elgin.

This phase of construction has been especially tough for our downtown businesses. The flying dust, barricades and slow moving traffic are deterring people from coming Downtown. The economic detours certainly aren’t helping either.

But, in a couple of weeks, the construction workers will go into hibernation and Downtown will be quiet for the winter.

So start planning your Downtown holiday adventures now. Whether you are throwing a big holiday shindig or a small holiday get together, our downtown restaurants and shops are great places to host a party.

Here are a couple of ideas to help you plan the perfect holiday party in Downtown:

(1) The Girls’ Night Out Holiday Party
How does a night of manis, pedis, lattes and shopping sound? Get the girls together and make a night of it with Jeri, Nell and Vicki, the owners of Salon Couture and Ravenheart Coffee on E. Chicago St. and Lily Falls Gift Boutique on Douglas Ave. These ladies are a riot, so you are sure to have a great time.

(2) The Book Club Holiday Party
Invite your book club to curl up with a good book and a warm coffee drink at Elgin Books on E. Chicago St. Gloria and Herminda will make you feel right at home in their quaint little shop. They often bring in local authors for talks and book signings, which would make for a cozy and memorable holiday gathering.

(3) The Big Game Holiday Party
Ok guys, now I know party planning is not really in your genetic make-up, so I’m going to make it easy on you. Step 1: Call your buddies and tell them to meet you at Mad Maggie’s on S. Grove Ave. Step 2: Arrive before your buddies and order a bucket of beers. Having cold beers ready to go when they arrive is good party host etiquette. That’s it. Though I haven’t formally counted, I think there’s something like 103 big screen TVs in that place. Elgin Public House on E. Chicago St. and Gasthaus Zur Linde are also great places to catch the game and awkwardly exchange gifts, as you guys tend to do.

(4) The Club Scene Holiday PartyWho wants to schlock through the Downtown Chicago sleet and snow to go to a club? Not to mention you’ve spent a hundred bucks for parking and cabs before you’ve even stepped foot on the dance floor. Medusa’s (formerly The Mission) has a really cool airplane-themed floor of its club on E. Chicago St. And despite what you may have heard, Medusa’s has much to offer than its teen club reputation implies.

(5) The Big Family Holiday Party
I’m Italian. My husband is Mexican. Needless to say, we have a big family. If you’re like us and need a place with a lot of space and comfort food “like Momma used to make” try La Quebrada Restaurant and Banquets on Highland Ave. They serve authentic Mexican food and have all the amenities of a banquet facility.

These are just a few ideas to get the wheels turning on your holiday planning. There are lots of other restaurants and shops in Downtown that offer unique experiences that people won’t soon forget. We at the DNA are pretty good at throwing parties, so if you need some ideas, give us a call.

The Reality of Downtown Elgin

Perception is reality, right?

Well, that's the topic for today, ladies and gentlemen.

The fact that people believe perception is reality is the reason why marketing works.

Does Brand X detergent really do a better job than Brand Yat getting your clothes that heavenly shade of white?

Probably not. But the point is, marketing changes perceptions. Therefore, marketing changes people's views of reality.

All you conspiracy theorists out there might see this as evil -- that marketing makes people believe things that aren't actually true. Some marketing does. Just look at all the negative campaign ads out there right now.

Fortunately, we all have brains. Unfortunately, not all of us choose to use this gift to its full capacity.

But here's the great thing about marketing: Its power also can be wielded for good. A solid marketing campaign can clear up misconceptions and bring the truth of reality into the light.

What the heck does this have to do with downtown Elgin, you ask?


You may have read in the papers that the Elgin City Council recently approved an expenditure of $75,000 for a marketing firm called Moveo. This firm will work with the Elgin Area Chamber of Commerce's Enhancing Elgin committee -- a group of volunteer community leaders with diverse backgrounds in communications, marketing, sales and public relations -- on a results-driven marketing campaign to change people's perceptions about Elgin.

You also may have read the anonymous outcries from the peanut galleries that throwing money at another marketing firm will not "fix Elgin's image."

The reality is, today Elgin has more to celebrate and market than it did 10 years ago. But the majority of perceptions hanging around out there are based on Elgin circa 1998. And I'd guess that the state of downtown Elgin in 1998 has some effect on this perception issue.

Think back to 1998 for a minute. Was The Centre of Elgin bringing in more than 1 million visitors per year? Oh yeah, The Centre wasn't even built yet.

Were acts such as blues legend B.B. King performing at the Hemmens? After the show, were audiences able to wine and dine at establishments such as Elgin Public House, Villa Verone and Mad Maggie's?

Were more than 500 people living in upscale condos and townhomes in the downtown area? Did downtown have the lowest crime rate of any neighborhood in the city? Was the Gail Borden Public Library bringing in colossal exhibits about dinosaurs and space exploration? Were thousands of people coming from throughout the Chicago area to enjoy summer events in Festival Park?

These are just a few of today's realities in downtown Elgin that our lagging perceptions from Elgin circa 1998 often cloud over. These are the types of things that a successful image campaign can bring to light.

Do you want to know what is even more powerful at changing perceptions than all the flashy print ads, bus billboards and TV commercials money can buy?


You have the power to change how people perceive Elgin. You can perpetuate the Elgin of 1998, 1988, 1978 or whatever decade in which those people who comment from the peanut galleries are stuck.

Or, you can help us market Elgin 2008, and bring some truth to the statement "perception is reality."