Main Street in Brookings will be more than just a street on a map after being nominated for America’s Best Main Street contest.
Downtown Brookings Incorporated entered Brookings Main Street into the competition. The competition began March 1 and will continue until April 24. After April 24, Main Streets will be selected to be finalists until an overall winner is chosen.
Independent We Stand and the National Main Street Center are hosting the contest, according to Bill Brunelle, the co-founder of Independent We Stand.
“It is a movement of small business owners across the nation,” Brunelle said. “A big part of our mission is to educate consumers and other businesses about the importance of supporting small, locally owned businesses.”
Elliot Johnson, the executive director of Downtown Brookings, Inc., decided to enter the Brookings Main Street into the contest for a possibility of winning the $25,000 prize.
“Monetary funds are few and far between so we work to service the community and the members of this town whether it is on campus or the people who claim this as their home,” Johnson said.
It was a “no-brainer” to enter Main Street into the contest, Johnson said.
“We know how interactive this community is, and we thought it was a great incentive reason to apply,” he said.
For Johnson, the factor that separates the Brookings Main Street from other Main Streets across America is the people.
“Anytime we are put in a situation where we can involve the community it is so refreshing to see Brookings, South Dakota back us up,” Johnson said. “It goes to show how lucky we are to know how supportive our city really is for each other.”
Trayce Meyer has owned Artworks on Main Street for 27 years. He recognizes the importance of independent businesses on the Main Street because the money spent at the business stays in the community.
“The devotion of independent business owners is significant to their communities,” Meyers said.
Meyers believes that the Brookings Main Street is set apart from other Main Streets because of the “established businesses that have been here a long time.”
Kirsten Gjesdal, owner of the Carrot Seed, has been at her location on Main for less than a year, but she recognizes the connection between independent businesses and Main Streets.
“There’s a lot of livelihood and vitality that comes from having a strong Main Street and that is what Brookings is trying to do is have an awesome Main Street,” Gjesdal said. “Having small businesses like this and other places in town add a lot of variety to your shopping options and it’s a fun place to visit.”
Her life-long goal is not to be an independent business owner, but she wants to use the store to give back to her community, which is her true life-long goal.
“I have always wanted to be an active part of the community,” Gjesdal said.
Stores are just one part of the businesses represented on Main Street. Clara Moeller, a junior agricultural business major, said her favorite places downtown are Ray’s Corner and Cook’s Kitchen.
Moeller said Cook’s Kitchen is the “best place to eat breakfast” and it is better than Perkins. She likes that the Brookings Main Street has a big variety of businesses, but she wishes there were signs that could help distinguish the businesses from one another.
Overall, Brunelle wants this competition to bring awareness to small businesses and Main Streets.
“The biggest goal for us is to raise awareness of the importance of main streets and small businesses that again help them grow and thrive and continue,” Brunelle said. “Main streets are really the heart beats of many communities and small businesses are the blood.”