Fondren’s first Thursday evening shopping opportunity is getting some new energy for 2014.
Leading the charge to revamp Fondren After 5 is Swell-O-Phonic owner Ron Chane, along with a small committee of merchants, bankers, marketers and restaurateurs. “It’s getting it back to grassroots,” he says of the planned reboot of the monthly event. “Fondren got its new zest ten years ago through the arts and I feel, through development, the arts may have taken a back seat. Fondren After 5 needs activity, more art, new life and new participation to stir it up and make it happen.”
Fondren Renaissance, Fondren After 5’s creator and host organization, applauds Chane’s efforts. “It’s exciting that merchants and others are willing to step up and say, “Let’s re-energize something that had another life,’” says Jim Wilkirson, Fondren Renaissance Executive Director.
Among the planned additions to the February 6th Fondren After 5 will be Midtown craftsmen, who will set up shop in and around Fondren Corner, street musicians are planned on various corners and Chane will give away tee shirts. As warmer months come about, talk of having fire engines kids could explore, more space jumps or a dog-based event are in the works.
With destination retail across the metro vying for shopper’s and diner’s attention — and dollars — Chane says Fondren is the leader among the central city core of downtown, Belhaven, Midtown and Fondren. “We have structure here that others don’t quite have yet,” he says, appreciative of Fondren Renaissance and its Fondren Association of Businesses committee. “We’re all in this big indie, DIY area, so I want to bring attention back to this side.”
Wilkirson agrees, saying the landscape of the neighborhood is in a constant state of change. “We are evolving with new merchants and restaurants who weren’t here in the initial thrust of Fondren After 5,” he says. “To get new involvement, you have to bring about a different spirit. It never hurts to reinvent a brand with a new twist.”
Chane says he has other ideas and visions for Fondren and hopes the Fondren After 5 revamp is a springboard for his and yet to be presented events. “The more people that see that, then other people will bring vision to the table and maybe want to pair up,” he explains. “Or they may have a better idea. I want to get behind that.”
Fondren Renaissance’s position is that this neighborhood is never stagnant and change is good. “We want people to say, “What are they doing different now? I wanna go see,’” Wilkirson says. Chane adds there’s a tailwind and it’s time to put some force behind it. “We’re not reinventing wheel, just rolling it again.”
Fondren After 5 is February 6 and will include ‘The Artists of Clinton’ opening reception at The Cedars (4145 Old Canton Road) at 5pm, fondRUNâ„¢ at 6pm and store openings, restaurant specials and music throughout the historic business district.