Are "Hangables" a Key to Community Success?

Note from the Editor | October. 14, 2015

Nick Meyer

The Night Market on October 10
The Night Market on October 10

At the start of October I realized something I’d never thought much about before – that our communities need more frequent and interesting evening events that: 1) Don’t really cost anything, and 2) Are broad enough that most anyone would feel comfortable attending and socializing, and 3) Are not at a bar or theater.

Events like these are something I’m just going to go ahead and call “hangables” – evening events where you can easily show up whenever it works, stay as long as you want, and just kinda hang out in between – all at a time and place where there’s enough cool stuff happening to keep things interesting no matter what you’re into. A prime example of this might be something like the Banbury Art Crawl where there’s shopping, music, food, art, and hundreds of other people there experiencing the same thing. The problem is that only happens once a year, and events like it are fairly few and far between.

This thought about “hangables” struck me after we held our first couple of Night Markets at The Local Store (part of the action is pictured above). The response has been so huge that it has somewhat surprised us as people just keep filing in each night to come check it out. The Night Market is something new we set up every Friday night in October from 6-9pm where we just really invest in the vibe. There’s live music in our outdoor courtyard, a small firepit, a local food truck, local tastings, a big sale under the lights on our sidewalk, and five or six different local makers on hand displaying their wares, which range from woodworking and fabrics to honey and handbags.

People really have latched onto the idea and spread the word. But what we’re doing is not really all that far outside the box, so why are people so into it? I think it’s because our community is somewhat starved for events that meet the criteria I mentioned above: easy, free, open, and interesting. Stuff that works equally as a date night, with the family, with a group of friends, or even just on your own. Something for everyone that’s free of charge at a time of day when that can be tough to find. Yes, you can spend money if you want (on food, art, retail, whatever) but there’s no pressure to do so and it’s completely socially acceptable not to. Our community has a ton of great shows to attend any given night: music, sports, theater, comedy, and more. And we have many options for grabbing dinner with the family or a drink with friends. But hangables – whether they’re based around retail, restaurants, parks, or clubs – are something that can fill the gap left between.

As multiple groups and businesses think about what could help our downtowns continue to grow in vitality and vigor, I think focusing on hangables could be a key component to making downtown nightlife not only more successful, but more welcoming to a much bigger crowd. And where there’s a bigger crowd, there’s bigger success.

Listen! Volume One's Nick Meyer discusses "hangables" on Wisconsin Public Radio

On Monday, October 19 (2015), Volume One Owner/Publisher Nick Meyer appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio's Central Time to discuss the concept of "hangables" and their importance to a community and its development.

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