How Epic is Greenville?

A few months back Livabilty ranked the best downtowns nationwide. Greenville came in third on the list, which created quite amount of local fanfare. People like it when downtown Greenville gets mentioned in these kinds of lists.

Livability was scientific in its approach.  Today, we are going to do a little exploring of the other cities in the top 10 to see what Greenville might learn from them.

No. 10 Evanston,Ill. A college town at heart, it shares a revitalization story similar to Greenville ( and most downtowns for that matter) as it went from dead to thriving in about 20 years. The story states that two decades ago, the only place that was open past 5 p.m. was a Burger King. My lone thought when I think of Evanston is when Northwestern students tore down the goalposts after another losing football game in the early 1980s and ran through downtown streets shouting “we’re the worst.” Today,  it is different. “Evanston has added mixed-use and residential buildings in the heart of the Sherman Avenue commercial district. These apartments and condos have created a place for Northwestern’s students and other young singles and couples to live beyond graduation.” Greenville’s Takeaway: They are getting young people to move downtown. Greenville’s YP core wants to be downtown as well, but their demand is more than the market has to offer right now.

No. 9, Colorado Springs, Col. I typically have trouble liking places such as Colorado Springs because to me they are suburb communities of a much larger city. They get to draft of the success of being in a big metro, but don’t have the clutter of the old big city. Colorado Springs is an exception. “Modern buildings blend with historic architecture throughout the city’s downtown area, where flower pots and trees line pedestrian-friendly streets and statues, carvings and paintings adorn shop windows, parks and even medians.”  This is a hip town. Greenville’s Takeaway: Mountains make a city, and we don’t have mountains to lure people. We do have a river. Always, remember we have a downtown river.

No. 8 Plano, Texas: I travel a lot and Texas has been a hot spot in the past few years. They have some sweet downtowns. I have wanted to get to Plano, but have not. I am apparently missing out. According to Livability, “During the 1980s, Downtown Plano’s business scene was sparse, with antiques stores and small clothing boutiques attracting shoppers. The addition of a light rail station connecting Plano to Dallas in 2002 helped get the downtown area back on track. Today, Historic Plano pulsates with a renewed energy that has brought in new offices, retail, restaurants and residents.” The pictures of downtown Plano also remind me of Greenville. Greenville’s Takeaway: We need a better transit system. I don’t mean anything stopgap. We need a system that really is thought out for future needs.

No. 7: Tempe, Ariz. “Finding things to do in Downtown Tempe is never difficult, thanks to the many entertainment venues and cultural centers. The Tempe Center for the Arts draws in art lovers with a series of live performance pieces that include symphony concerts, songwriters’ showcases, comedy shows and dances as well as a gallery with rotating exhibits,” according to the article. This is a very, very modern downtown based on the photos we have seen. It also is home to Arizona State University, which again gives it a very cool feel. However, despite the steel and glass, it has a natural allure with the Salt River flowing and the Tempe Buttes nearby. Greenville Takeaway: ASU dominates the landscape. Greenville will never be able to get that college town feel, but we can keep pushing for more satellite campuses of local colleges downtown.

No. 6 Boise, Idaho. Wait, Boise is on the list? If you are an average American, you likely think of potatoes, potatoes, potatoes when Boise, Idaho comes to mind. Don’t be fooled. This is one beautiful city that managed to stave off suburban sprawl. Downtown Boise rocks. “Two downtown farmers markets, the Capital City Public Market and the Boise Farmers Market, give residents broad choice for fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables, baked goods and crafts. Zoo Boise anchors a large area of riverside green space, which includes the Discovery Center of Idaho and the Idaho Black History Museum. Downtown Boise is also located next to Ann Morrison Park, a 153-acre green space with tennis courts, athletic fields, and gardens.” Greenville’s Takeaway:  This is a state capital so they have a ton more government workers than Greenville has, but government workers don’t always stick around after 5 p.m.

No. 5 Pittsburgh, Pa.  How bad was Pittsburgh in the 1980s? . The town was a wreck. And not just because the Pirates mascot was busted for dealing drugs But now, Pittsburgh has come back and better than ever.  Why? “Parks and riverfront trails make living downtown an even more appealing option for people who like to be where the action is. Many downtown residents frequently visit Point State Park, a 36-acre green space located at the tip of the Golden Triangle, where the Ohio, Monongahela and Allegheny rivers converge. The rivers provide chances to kayak and canoe.” That is just part of the story. The Greenville Chamber sent a group of folks to Pittsburgh a few years back, so that city’s growth is definitely on our radar. Greenville’s Takeaway: Pittsburgh’s hometown musician of choice is Donnie Iris. We have Edwin McCain. We win this one.

No. 4 Bellevue, Wash. Located across Lake Washington from Seattle, Bellevue is another city on the list that seems to draft of the success of being in a big metro area. The reality is for all the hype that Seattle has gotten, it has problems downtown. Bellevue doesn’t. This is a big downtown, which city planners have done a great job of making it coherent. “Covering 400 acres of the city, Downtown Bellevue includes 4.5 million square feet of retail and entertainment space and more than 9 million square feet of office space. Vacant or new homes and offices don’t stay on the market for long, yet prices allow more than half of the population to own or rent a home for no more than 30 percent of their annual incomes, a sign that Bellevue offers affordability.” Greenville’s Takeaway: For years, we wondered when downtown Greenville would expand beyond Main Street. It is happening now, and happening quickly. Bellevue is a good example of how to create a large downtown, but one that doesn’t feel disconnected.

No 3.  Hey, it’s Greenville! And there is a picture of Reedy River Falls!

No. 2 Santa Monica, Cal. Obligatory mention that Santa Monica is/was the home of The Doors, but I don’t think even Morrison envisioned this SoCal town breaking on through as a great downtown. Wow, that was strained writing. “The city contains a large collection of arts-related businesses, parks and restaurants, and people living in Santa Monica spend more time out and about than those in other cities. Residents here tend to visit the downtown area and go out to eat nearly twice as often as the average U.S. citizen. A network of sidewalks, bike lanes and paths makes Santa Monica the most walkable city on this list. All 8 square miles of Santa Monica are easily navigated by foot, bike or skateboard. And surfboards 6 feet long or shorter are allowed on city buses.” Greenville’s Takeaway: This is one walkable downtown. We are close to that, but we can be better. Also, surfing on the Reedy needs to be a thing.

No 1. Alexandria, Va.  “Old Town offers the sophistication you’d expect in a much larger city while presenting cozy comforts, such as the water bowls for dogs, set out on the sidewalks by local shop owners. Among the top things to do in Alexandria are strolling along the Potomac River, admiring the pieces being made at the Torpedo Factory Art Center and touring museums on Market Square.” Greenville’s Takeaway: Alexandria has earned a reputation as a food destination. We are working on that.

Happy New Year’s

Locally Epic Greenville

We want to thank everyone in Greenville who downloaded the app in the past year (more than 30,000 of you!), all of who have offered a promo on the app (more than 100 of you) and all of other supporters in 2017.

It’s been one Locally Epic year.

As we look forward to an amazing 2018, we have some really cool things brewing coming from Locally Epic including a pet contest, a fun event to go along with the Duck Derby in May, the return of the Epic Quest this fall, a shop local initiative, numerous more chances to win $1 million at a Furman basketball game or Greenville Swamp Rabbits game and many more surprises.

We look forward to sharing them all with you.

Five Christmas songs to enjoy that you don’t hear on the radio

Locally Epic is diving into the world of Christmas music. Yes, even with two stations playing holiday tunes non-stop in the Upstate, here are five songs we feels should be played more. So when you get tired of Jingle Bell Rock, Rudolph and Frosty, give these bad boys a try.

5: Billy Squier’s Christmas is the Time to Say I Love You: Long before his career was derailed by releasing the Rock Me Tonight video, there were few cooler people than Billy Squier in the early 1980s. An interesting fact about this Christmas song is that it was a B-side. A b-side to “My Kind of Lover.”  Only Squier could be so bold in the 1980s. Check it out here (with some help from the early MTV staff).

4: The Kinks’ Father Christmas: Ok, this one will get some airplay during the holidays, but not nearly enough. For every 10 times you hear Wham, you will hear this one. That is a British holiday music imbalance of epic proportions. What can you say about Father Christmas that hasn’t been said. It has an amazing guitar riff, very meaningful lyrics on poverty and a shout-out chorus. And if you watch the video, one gets the feeling the Kinks weren’t quite sober when they did this.

3: Bryan Adams’ Reggae Christmas:  As much as we like Adams’ cover of “Run, Run Rudolph,” this is his best Christmas song of all time. Fun and funky. Plus the video has Pee Wee Herman.

2: The Waitresses’ Christmas Wrapping: This was always a song that seemed to be played on Christmas Eve only, but it is starting to get some more airplay in recent years. That is a good thing, but I want more. The song is a great piece of new wave nostalgia from an underrated band that is forgotten as a novelty act (I Know What Boys Want).

1: Cheech and Chong’s Santa Claus and his Old Lady: Christmas is not really Christmas until Cheech and Chong doing this spoken word rendition of the story of Santa. Actually Cheech is telling the story because Chong apparently never heard of Santa Claus because he grew up in Pittsburgh.  Plus the horn-drive musical outro is sweet.

Do you like hockey?

Locally Epic Greenville

What’s better than watching the Greenville Swamp Rabbits play hockey? How about the opportunity to win $1 million while doing so? Yep, you read that right. Locally Epic is sponsoring the $1 Million Slap Shot Contest at select Swamp Rabbit home games this season!

Which home games? We glad you asked! We will be asking you to shoot for the score on December 21st, 23rd and 28th; January 7th and 12th; February 6th,15th and 20th; March 6th and 23rd; and April 5th.

So, what do you need to know in case you get called down to the ice to take part?

  • NO Assistance of any kind either formally or informally, intentional or unintentional, however oblique in nature.
  • NO Practice shots
  • NO Substitutions.
  • NO Past or Current Hockey Professionals.
  • NO College Hockey Players within the last 5 years or NO High School Hockey Players within the last 2 years..
  • NO Cross-Over from other sports (Curling, Baseball, Cricket, ice skating) as per addendum #4. Hole-in-WON.com determination is Final.
  • NO Elite Amateurs. (Currently or within 2 years have played organized semi professional or Club Hockey.Hole-in-WON.com determination is Final. A professional is also defined as anyone who is currently in, or has been within the last year, the hockey industry or pursues as a profession, profits and/or gains from the hockey industry. EX:(Assistant Hockey Coaches) Hole-in-WON.com determination is Final.
  • One winner or shared award unless otherwise stated in writing.
  • Four Independent witnesses required AND unedited videotape. If prize value is $25,000 or greater one of the Independent Witnesses needs to be a Police or Hockey official. Hole-in-won.com determination is final.
  • Only 1 of shot or shot(s) allowed per contestant(s), from the contracted distance and/or Any distance in the contest, as per contractual terms and conditions. NO Multiple Attempts, Additional shots, or Retry’s. NO Distinct Advantages are to be given to following Contestants in a Multiple Contestant events by lining up directly behind the previous contestant.
  • Client/Contestants must also adhere to all contractual points, terms, conditions and the rules and regulations of NHL. NHL Distances are as follows: Center ice 87 feet from Goal; Blue Line 60 feet from closest goal; FAR Blue line 114 feet from FAR Goal. Contests MUST be a MINIMUM of these distances. NO EXCEPTIONS.
  • Cut outs / Template Must NOT be any larger than 3.5 inches in length to 1.5 inches in height. NO EXCEPTIONS.
  • NO Current or Former employees, immediate member of any family, agents, successors, assignee’s of the sponsor/client are eligible, as well as any promotional company, advertising agency, organization or company involved with the event. The parties acknowledge that Golf Marketing is NOT liable for reimbursement of any prize(s) otherwise payable to promotional contestants who are in violation of this provision. WAIVED
  • Names and likenesses of promotion winner(s) may be used by Hole-in-WON.com and or its designee(s) for promotional purposes without further compensation to the client or the promotion winner(s).
  • Any and All changes to this rules eligibility addendum and contract MUST be done in writing and signed on by the client and Hole-in-WON.com PRIOR to the event.
  • All eligibility terms, and conditions of this addendum are the SOLE responsibility of the client.

Have an Epic Thanksgiving weekend

Locally Epic loves helping you find everything “epic” about the Greenville area. And with that in mind, here are five ways you can be “locally epic” this Thanksgiving weekend.

  1. Take part in a road race. There are a lot to choose from including the Trees Greenville  8K and 5K.
  2. Shop locally at one of the thousands of homegrown businesses in the Greenville area this Saturday as part of the Small Business Saturday Check out our Facebook page and check out the app for local businesses doing promotions.
  3. There are more than 16,000 non-profit groups in Greenville. Next Tuesday is a big day for them as they strive to get people to give a donation. Check out the Locally Epic app for some local agencies doing good work to make Greenville better.
  4. The Palmetto Bowl is this Saturday. If you don’t have tickets for the Tigers-Gamecocks matchup, you can check out the Locally Epic app to find the best places to watch the game with friends.
  5. Take a hike. One of the most epic things about Greenville is that you be surrounded by trees and nature just by driving 15 miles out of downtown. That is pretty cool. VisitGreenville has a great list of places to take a hike this weekend.

Giving back: It’s the Greenville Way

There are an estimated 1,600 non-profit groups in Greenville County.

And there are roughly 500,000 people. With that kind of math, each nonprofit should be up to its ears in volunteers and funding if every person in Greenville gave. Unfortunately, not every one of them gives. Most don’t.

But a lot do. Greenville is a giving community. It’s like that old Tina Turner song (Ok, Ike and Tina…ok, ok, originally Credence Clearwater Revival, but Tina’s version is best known) about if you don’t have any money, you don’t have to worry, people on the river are happy to give. I will let you sing the rest of Proud Mary in your head before I start typing again.

And we’re back. Greenville is a community built on volunteerism. It is part of the community’s DNA. And we want it to be part of the Locally Epic DNA.  That is why we offering the Locally EPIC to any non-profit organization in Greenville for free. Free? FREE!

Yes, free. No access fees. No hidden charges. No cost. Just free. We want you to use it to find volunteers. We want you to use it to find donors. We want you to find it to help your mission. We are doing this because we believe in Greenville.

This Thursday at 8 a.m., we will be showing nonprofits from across the region how to learn more about using the app. Please join us. Sign up here.

Voting Matters for Locally Epic

Locally Epic, Greenville

It’s early November, which means it’s time for some local crank to write an annual letter to the newspaper about voter apathy.

We know the letter by heart. Local elections matter most because that is what affects you the most. And by most, they mean tax dollars. And by tax dollars, they mean how they are spent. And then there is the usual hokum about how our  children’s children will be affected by this vote. Yada, yada, yada.

I have been them reading my entire life. First growing up in Nebraska. Then in my early professional career with stops on in Nashville, Charleston, Myrtle Beach and Florida. Finally, I have been reading them in Yeah That Greenville, South Carolina.

Well, this year, I have opted to be the local crank, but I am going to write you a different  letter. I am not going to write about how 10 percent turnout is pathetic. I am not going to write about democracy and our great nation. I am not going to write about the founding fathers. No, I am going to write, quickly, about why you need to vote locally and then, more importantly, how to increase voter turnout.

So, why vote locally? Because this is Greenville. We have done more. We have accomplished more. We should strive to be a place that votes better locally than anywhere else in America because we strive to be a better place than anywhere else in the country.

And by Greenville, I mean all of Greenville. Not just the City. Not just County offices. I mean all of the cities – Travelers Rest, Greer, Mauldin, Simpsonville, Fountain Inn — located in our 795 square miles. I mean the fire districts. I mean the sewer districts. I mean the school board. I mean anything else where people get elected.

So how do we do it? Read on:

  1. If you have read this far, you likely are already somebody who votes locally. Good. Now, here is what you need to do. Get a pair of scissors. Cut this out of the Journal. Make some copies. Staple them to the doors of the houses of your neighbors, who don’t vote. If you are reading this online, print it out and go straight to step four with the stapling. If your neighbor complains, tell them if they voted in local elections they could help enact law that prevent you from stapling things to their doors. They will look at you strangely. They will vote next time around.
  2. If you are not someone who votes locally, and are still reading this far, I have news for you. Your neighbor is stapling this to your door as you read. Thank them. Then go and vote on Tuesday.
  3. Get social. Yes, there is an election this week in the City of Greenville. You may have decided who you are voting for. More than likely, you have no idea who is running. But if you do know about next Tuesday, tell people to vote. Put it on Facebook. Do a Snapchat. Tweet it. Email your friends. Call them next Tuesday. You don’t have to endorse anyone. Just tell them to vote. Invite them for a beer after work. Tell them it’s a hot new bar called The Voting Place and give them the address of their local polling station. If they show up, they should have ID with them. It’s a win-win.
  4. Get out of your comfort zone. I live off Haywood Road. I see yard signs everywhere. I see signs as I drive to work downtown. You know where I don’t see that many if any? Dunbar. Nicholtown.  Pettigru. White Oak. And many more neighborhoods that aren’t as politically active on the local level this time around. Large neighborhoods where informed voters get to the polls, but everyone else may not even realize what is happening next week. If you have time, go to those neighborhoods. Put up a two-dollar yard signs that says vote on Tuesday. Even if gets five people to vote, that is a difference you made. If 50 people do this, that is 250 votes. All of a sudden, people start to take notice.

The reality is we live in an amazing little slice of our wonderful nation. If we want it to continue to be that kind of place for people of all races, genders, creeds, background and the like, then we must vote locally.

Don’t Underestimate Your Role in Making Greenville Great

How much difference does a dollar really make these days? Maybe more than you think.

Take Greenville – we’re fortunate to live in such a  thriving city that’s earned well-deserved national recognition as being a true gem of the Southeast. Now granted, part of that is because of our geographic location, and since that’s priceless, where does your buck fit it?

Think about taking a stroll along Main Street, or antiquing in Travelers Rest, or finding the perfect Christmas gifts in the shops along the Augusta Road business district. What if those businesses didn’t have local support? Would Main Street be as warm and inviting without as many occupied storefronts? Would there be The Shops at Greenridge? Would Greenville be the same city we treasure now?

There’s no denying the convenience of the internet – it is, after all, in your phone, and your phone’s in your pocket or purse (or more likely, your hand) right now. But about that buck: For every dollar you spend in a Greenville business, a whopping 75 cents stays right here in Greenville. Even if you’re shopping at a Woodruff Road big box (and we all do, right?), 35 cents of every buck you spend stays local. In either case, that’s cash that flows through local employees, managers and owners and into other local businesses like grocery stores and gas stations. It buys cars from local dealerships. It buys homes constructed by local builders. It is our economic life blood. If Upstate consumers pivot $20 a week away for a year from  online or a big box store to a locally owned store that would in increase the local Upstate economy by $300 million.

Compare that scenario to this: For every dollar you spend with non-local online businesses, only one cent remains in the local economy. One penny, vs. the 99 that won’t stay here. So in the bigger picture, what’s your buck worth online vs. locally – what’s it worth to you?

But we all value convenience, and the internet does make it easy to find deals. Fortunately, the internet is an open playing field, and there are ways that local businesses can participate. Take Yelp – which has become successful because it’s all about local food and local folks’ opinions. And while Yelp probably takes a lot of our bucks home to San Francisco, the company also understands and believes in the value of local businesses, to the point that Yelp even provides training to help local small businesses learn how to make the most of social media.

That type of help is critical, because while the internet is open to all, it isn’t always cheap or easy. In truth, there’s no shortage of barriers that keep small businesses from taking full advantage of the internet’s power. For a business owner, joining the online world represents a substantial investment, often with seemingly few tangible results.

There’s now another way you can use the internet to easily find what you’re looking for, right here in the Greenville area. Locally Epic, which is a local startup, works to connect local shoppers and businesses, thereby combining the convenience and power of the internet with the value of shopping locally. Consumers can now access a mobile-friendly online platform to find local offers and promotions from a wide range of businesses  in real time, while business owners can effectively reach new audiences. Think about it: As much fun as exploring quaint shops can be, more often than not, you’re probably looking for the best price on a specific item, or the best way to solve a certain need. And you’re probably on a tight schedule. At times like these, you can now connect with the best solution right here, right now. That’s true convenience.

 

Locally Epic is also working to create ways for small business to get noticed. You’ve probably downloaded an app or two that promise local bargains, but these usually provide pre-selected “deals” that rarely coincide with your needs. In the long run, a lot of people wind up deleting these apps from their phones, which impacts the small, local businesses that don’t have the resources to keep investing in new apps to meet market needs. Now local companies can share one app, and by creating value for consumers and businesses alike, that app is more likely to get used – not purged.

And “value” takes us back to those concepts of quality of life, being fortunate enough to live in the Upstate, and that buck that I hope is still burning a hole in your pocket. It’s your buck, and it’s your choice, but before you spend it, I do hope you’ll consider that every dollar you spend represents your opportunity to have a positive economic impact on our region and the Greenville lifestyle we’ve come to enjoy and, yes — value.

 

You seek the Quest

This Saturday, Locally Epic is undertaking its biggest venture yet, The Epic Quest.

In case you  haven’t been following us on Facebook or seen the numerous media stories, The Epic Quest is an adventure race/scavenger hunt being held around Greenville. It starts at 11 a.m. at the downtown arena, and will take close to 100 teams (that’s 200 people !) around some of the most epic spots around Greenville. You will see them wearing their bright yellow Locally Epic shirts.

The top 10 finishing teams will then compete that night during an intermission at a Greenville Swamp Rabbits game to slap a puck into an open net.  The first team to “score” gets $2,500, the second team gets $1,500 and the final team gets $1,000.

We have been planning this event for the past two months now — meeting each Friday with our partners (In the Know Upstate and Complete Public Relations) to discuss the best ways to make this event work. And you should be thankful they were helping. We wanted people to crawl though pits of mud and jump through flaming hoops in order to compete. They suggested doing social media posts at locally epic spots.  They won the discussion.

But who will win the money?

That will be decided Saturday. Make sure to follow us during the day on Facebook and Instagram for updates from The Epic Quest.