ActivePaper Archive Main Street shopping district off to strong start in national competition - El Dorado , 1/26/2016

Main Street shopping district off to strong start in national competition

The city of El Dorado, or rather its award-winning Main Street shopping district, is off to a strong start in a national competition that could mean an appearance on a syndicated television show.

By Monday, local voters had helped the city build a commanding lead among communities around the nation that are in the running for the Best Shopping on Main Street competition, and Mark Givens, executive director of Main Street El Dorado, is encouraging the community to continue casting its ballots.

The contest was launched about a week ago by and “Small Town, Big Deal,” a nationally syndicated TV show that spotlights innovative, interesting and historic happenings in small-town USA, according to the show’s website.

STBD airs on RFD-TV, a network that focuses on rural communities in America.

Givens said the El Dorado-Union County Chamber of Commerce notified the MSE office about the contest to “find the best ‘Main Street’ shopping experience in America.”

After MSE representatives reviewed the information sent by the chamber, Givens said they took to social media and asked local residents to visit the Shop on Main website to nominate the local Main Street program, one of dozens across the country that has entered the contest so far.

Late Monday afternoon, 451 votes had been cast for El Dorado, more than 260 votes ahead of the communities with the next highest number of votes — Beloit, Wis., and Lansing, Mich., which were tied at 190.

“We’re doing well and hopefully, we’ll get more votes,” Givens said.

Lisa Packer, director of marketing for, said the idea behind the contest is to help create excitement and generate buzz for the new website, which went live in October.

Additionally, Shop On Main saw the contest as an opportunity to use the Internet to market and promote small business and entrepreneurship, which Shop on Main believes are the economic backbone of the country, particularly in rural communities.

“A lot of times, we think of the Internet as taking away from small business. We wanted to use the power of the Internet to support local economies,” Packer said.

She said small businesses often must compete with big box stores and the convenience that Internet shopping can provide.

“A lot of times, you can find the same thing in your local town, but people just don’t know,” Packer continued.

The winner of the competition has a shot at being featured on an episode of STBD, which grabs about 500,000 viewers a week.

“I think that’s going to get a lot of attention, a lot of exposure on the national level,” Givens said.

“They will be interested in local business owners, they’ll do a segment on the town – what makes you great, what makes you special and unique,” Packer said.

Due to the enthusiastic response to the contest in just a matter of days, Packer said sponsors have decided to tweak some of the rules.

New categories will be created based on the size and population of the communities who enter. Winners will be selected in each category and an overall winner will be chosen.

There have also been discussions to extend the deadline for voting from March 1 to March 31, Packer said.

In a further effort to boost local economies, stores in the winning town will also get a separate, “spotlight” listing on the Shop On Main website.

“They’ll be able to take orders from all over the country,” Packer said.

To nominate El Dorado in the Best Shopping on Main Competition, visit