ENTREPRENEURS OF THE MONTH: SEPTEMBER 2015
BJ Kocen, Jennifer Glave, and Tammy Rostov unite to create West Main Village and Embrace the Race, Richmond 2015
By Hope Katz Gibbs,
Publisher, Be Inkandescent
The three West Main Village founders knew they had to do something.
The announcement had just been made that the international UCI Bicycle Race would be coming to Richmond, VA, from Sept. 19-27, 2015 — and that the cycle route would be curving just a block away from their shops — Tammy Rostov’s Rostov’s Coffee & Tea and BJ Kocen and Jennifer Glave’s art gallery glave kocen.
Over a freshly brewed pot of dark roast, the entrepreneurs cooked up a plan: They’d gather the community of 35 restaurants, galleries, retail shops, and small businesses in the three-block area in front of their shops, arrange to close off one block to traffic, and host an array of events during the weekend of the race, Sept. 25-27.
They posted a West Main Village Facebook page, and started having meetings. And, they began attending meetings of the city’s organizing committee. And, they asked as many questions as they could to position themselves for maximum visibility.
Scroll down to read our Q&A. And click here to listen to our podcast interview with the West Main Village founders on the Inkandescent Radio Network.
Be Inkandescent: When did it first hit you that you absolutely had to do something to get some of those 450,000 people into your stores?
BJ Kocen: I think it was the minute we heard about the race coming to Richmond. We knew that the only thing that could top this event was if Richmond secured a bid for the Olympics. So this is huge!
We talked to a lot of people who said they plan to stay home to avoid the chaos. But the three of us felt differently. That’s why we came up with this idea of embracing the race, because we see it as an opportunity for all of the business owners in the neighborhood to come together and work on something big that is certain to be a ton of fun.
The world really is coming to Richmond, and we want to welcome all these people from different nations to our great city. We want to be ambassadors. We want them to have a good time, be comfortable, and we want to show the world what RVA has to offer.
Be Inkandescent: Your two shops are right next to one another on West Main Street. Tammy tell us how this big idea to host a street fair was set into motion.
Tammy Rostov: It started last May 2014, on a Thursday. I remember it clearly because a group of kids was handing out information packets explaining that the road would be closed all weekend because the collegiate bike races were coming through town. They wanted to let us know there would be a slight inconvenience. I was intrigued, so I went down to watch the race and see how it would impact the neighborhood.
It dawned on me then that in September, we would have the world bicycle race in town — and it would be a huge event. We knew from Richmond city officials that the road in front of our stores would be blocked to traffic, so we decided to take advantage of the opportunity. Wouldn’t you?
The next step was to invite all the neighbors to come hear about what was happening, and think about what we could do to maximize our visibility. We had about 20 people at the first meeting to hear what it was going to look like, and what we could do to welcome the people who come into our community for the UCI Road World Championships.