Lack of Interest, Funding Causes Fall of Downtown Mall Alliance

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A group to help market Downtown Mall businesses has disbanded. A group to help market Downtown Mall businesses has disbanded.
Owner of Spring Street Boutique, Cynthia Schroeder, formed the alliance in 2016. Owner of Spring Street Boutique, Cynthia Schroeder, formed the alliance in 2016.

After just two years, an organization aimed at supporting businesses on the Downtown Mall has reached its end.

The Downtown Mall Alliance has officially disbanded. The alliance was formed in 2016 by the owner of Spring Street Boutique, Cynthia Schroeder, in order to promote businesses on the mall.

Schroeder says a lack of interest and spending money has to do with the group’s closure. She said the purpose of the group was to add another dimension to the mall and enhance existing marketing.

Schroeder hoped her group could work together with the Downtown Business Association, but that never happened. Funding for her group mostly came out of her pocket, except for some outside funding. Schroeder hoped to get funding from the city, but to do that, the group had to be in operation for at least two years.

“Without funding and without enough people’s support in the alliance, I couldn’t continue and I think some people were waiting to see more things to do, but in order to do more, I needed help to do it,” Schroeder said.

While sad to see her group come to an end, Schroeder hopes to use her extra time to focus on her passion for prevention of animal cruelty.

Letter to DMA members from Cynthia Schroeder:

Dear DMA Members,

I spent multi-thousands of dollars and time away from my business, Spring Street.  I invested energy in trying to make Charlottesville the vital commercial community that it should be.  Along the way  I had to struggle against unfriendly interests.  Some of those interests were promising for decades to come out of inertia and prosper.  Certain financial interests including the city chose to support candy promotions instead of helping the people of the DMA.  There are unenthusiastic people who considered the DMA a fictional enemy of the “status quo”.  I say “status quo” because those people were afraid to innovate.  The DMA had pro-active expert enthusiasm and plans to raise the mall businesses out of their doldrums.

The DMA could definitely have been an answer to the challenge of larger chain stores.  It developed a brand new promise specifically to enhance businesses by focusing on the population of Charlottesville rather than the bottom line dollar signs.  Our community based approach could have helped but our planned events have been adopted by others who a few of them.?  It’s at the businesses on the Downtown Mall had a different  version of how to expand and improve.  Thus,  I hope their choice becomes a reality.  I say thank  you to all the DMA members who showed their integrity.  To those that wanted the DMA to further their cause we say thank you.  Your attempts were valiant to say the least.

It is with great regret that we make the decision to disband he DMA.  We will not leave in any defeat but in classy victory.  I never thought of it as a competition .  We brought a new wave to an old business model.  I know we did our job.  At least we made changes to an old mentality and brought a fresh approach  to the cities independent stores and businesses.

Please don’t take this personally .  This is a business decision and not a personal one.  I will admit it gives me more time to devote my passion of the prevention of animal abuse here and worldwide. 

Friends of the DMA stop in for coffee.

Thank you for a wonderful adventure.

Cynthia Schroeder
Executive Director
the Downtown Mall Alliance