When I started with the Downtown New West Business Improvement Association back in December, there were lots of familiar faces, projects, and issues. Of course a lot has changed since I worked for the BIA the first time around, but many things remained the same as well.
One big thing that hasn’t changed is that the BIA produces the largest event in New West – the Key West Ford Show & Shine. 100,000 people and 300 cars come out every year on the second Sunday of July to Columbia Street. Pretty amazing when you think about it, out of our small two person BIA office, supported by fantastic contractors and volunteers, we pull off this huge event annually.
My first reaction to the planning process was that not much had changed: the same faces, the same task lists, the same processes. Time to switch things up a bit. However I was reminded that if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it. Fair enough. When you have 12 years of previous successful Show & Shines under your belt then I’ll trust you on that one!
So our strategy was to tweak and upgrade. What we have works, it’s just time for a little update.
To that end, we focused on forming more partnerships with organizations and businesses that would add an element of interactivity to the show. The biggest and most obvious update is partnering with Key West Ford, but we also went about forming a partnership with the Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation to offer a 50/50 draw in celebration of their 150 years of service in New West. We brought in the new Bosley’s at Columbia Square Plaza to offer a “Pet Lounge” – Karima, the owner, will set up an actual lounge for your furry friends with cool beds, water, ice pops, and stylin’ giveaways like bandanas.
And we collaborated with the West Coast College of Massage Therapy, using the beautiful courtyard space at 611 Columbia Street to create the West Coast Wellness and Living Oasis – a sanctuary with mini spa services and shopping geared towards the ladies who attend.
But there was one thing I was focused on from the start. I wanted cool food vendors. With the recent additions of Chronic Tacos and Re-Up BBQ to Downtown New West we didn’t have to go very far to get a good start.
But, I wanted something bigger. I thought, what was the most high profile street food vendor in the Lower Mainland? Who has promotional power? What food cart would people travel to get to? Be willing to line up at? Clearly, it had to be Japadog.
Yep, I wanted Japadog. And I really had no idea how challenging that would be, but I was determined. I started the way anyone would, I googled them to try and find a phone number. Nope, no luck. I called a few contacts, was given a phone number that was basically a voicemail. Left messages, emailed them. Again, no luck.
Then I hired a very industrious and equally determined Summer Student Ambassador, Tia Dalupang, who wanted this as much I did. I won’t tell you how she did it, but after much time and effort she brought me a cell phone number. An actual direct line to someone, yay!
Lo and behold, I called Hideki, Catering Manager of Japadog who himself is a car buff. Lucky. All the planets and stars lined up and after some negotiating (and ok, maybe some pleading on my part) I got them. Japadog, for the first time, will come to New West.
So, after all our hard work, I hope that it pays off and that many of you are Japadog fans! Or perhaps you have never had the opportunity to try them out yet, well that opportunity has arrived and I hope you’ll come down to the Key West Ford Show & Shine on Sunday for a taste!
Kendra Johnston is the Executive Director of the Downtown New Westminster Business Improvement Association