CSMA planning to hire security

Merchants association would like to cut down on panhandling and vagrants along the retail side of Cedar Springs

SAFETY AND SECURITY  |  OutLines owner David Lester believes that a security guard will help make shopping on Cedar Springs a safer and more pleasant experience. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

SAFETY AND SECURITY | OutLines manager David Lester believes that a security guard will help make shopping on Cedar Springs a safer and more pleasant experience. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Cedar Springs Merchants Association decided to hire a guard to patrol the east side of Cedar Springs Road. Store owners and landlords will fund the additional security.

Caven Enterprises, owner of four bars on the west side Cedar Springs, has had guards patrol that side of the street for years.

CSMA President Scott Whittall said several incidents prompted hiring the guard.

“We deal with panhandlers and vagrants daily,” Whittall said.

A burglary at OutLines several weeks ago was among the incidents that prompted the move.

OutLines manager David Lester said, “A gentleman of dubious character was in the store.”

He said the salesman kept an eye on him. The man said he was going to purchase six pairs of jeans, selected a variety of sizes and styles and took them to the counter. The salesman followed the man to the cash register but as he walked behind the counter, the man grabbed the slacks and ran out the door.

Lester said the presence of security on the street would help.

“The security person will have a phone,” he said.

A salesman in a store could call the guard to come down to that store. Lester said it might not have prevented the theft, but the man would have been less likely to grab and run if a guard was standing outside the front door.

“The presence tends to tell people we’re watching,” he said.

He said at night during the week the parking in back can be dark and lonely. A security guard could watch people as they go to their cars.

However, the guard will not be full time. The days and hours will vary from week to week.

Lester said that it would be nice to have someone full-time but this is what they can afford. He said the fluctuating schedule would make it harder to announce which hours would be best for shoplifting. Some days the guard will patrol during the afternoon. Other days security will continue into the evening.

Caven Enterprises has employed security guards around its clubs and parking lots for years.

“We’ve had security as long as I’ve worked for this company,” said Caven president Gregg Kilhoffer, who has been with the company for 27 years.

On any one night Caven has three to seven guards — one at each club entrance, one in the parking lot, one in paid parking and one or two roaming the perimeter.

“Security is very important,” Kilhoffer said, “And I’m very proud of that.”

Kilhoffer, who is on the board of the merchant’s association, said he would like to see security during the day for the stores and restaurants.

“That would help us deal with people who harass customers,” he said.

Whittall said that CSMA is still interviewing companies to provide the protection required. He said he thought they had a deal with one company but that company wasn’t willing to patrol on a varying schedule.
“Vagrants know when security is there,” Whittall said.

Police advised the group to vary hours and days to keep panhandlers and vagrants off-guard.

Whittall said that in his eight years as a Cedar Springs merchant, he hadn’t encountered any violent crime along the street. And a security guard would not patrol the residential streets where many people park on weekends where muggings have occurred.

Lester said that unfortunately a guard wouldn’t have prevented the recent hit-and-run accidents involving pedestrians either.

But Whittall said panhandling is a major problem that merchants hoped to get under control.

“Not a day went by that I didn’t have to deal with it,” Whittall said.

Whittall sold Buli and the transfer to new owners happened last week. He said the new owners had to deal with a panhandler in the store the first hour they were running the business.

To fund the guard, CSMA planned to hold a holiday dinner and cabaret on Friday, Dec. 2 at The Rose Room. Whittall said that several other events that evening conflicted including a Human Rights Campaign holiday party. Only half the seats sold so CSMA decided to postpone it.

Whittall said the event will be moved to early spring. Singer Linda Petty who was slated to appear, told him that she would be available for the group whenever they rescheduled it. She said she’d rather sing for a full house to help them raise more money.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 9, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Utility work on Cedar Springs not expected to hurt business

CSMA announces schedule of fall events, including annual Christmas tree lighting in December

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STRONG SALES | Matthew Evans, the newest employee at Union Jack on Cedar Springs Road, saw his busiest day at the store during Pride weekend. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Utility work is scheduled to begin on Cedar Springs Road on Monday, Sept. 26, but should create minimal interruption to business on the street, business owners said this week.

When Atmos Energy first announced the work, all parking on the street was going to be affected for about two weeks. The original start date would have had the street torn up during the Pride parade.

After City Councilwoman Angela Hunt intervened, the work was postponed until after Pride, and the company agreed to do one section at a time.

Cedar Springs Merchants Association President Scott Whittall said this week that he doesn’t expect the work to interfere with business. Only a few parking spaces at a time should be disrupted, he said.

“They’re checking connections, not doing repairs,” he said, adding that it will be a “dig, check, fill back in” situation.

Work will begin on the Oak Lawn Avenue end of the street and proceed toward Douglas Avenue. All construction should be completed in time for fall events planned for the street.

Merchants this week reported strong business during Pride weekend, and they said they are looking for fall events to continue boosting sales.

Whittall.Scott
CSMA President Scott Whittall

“We really had a good weekend,” said Macho Nacho Assistant General Manager Brandi Knutzen. “We had fun and saw a lot of new faces.”

She said it was their biggest weekend since the restaurant opened in April, and she hopes many of the people who came in for the first time during Pride will return.

OutLines Manager David Lester said that business in his shop is up over last year. He said that in addition to events the Cedar Springs Merchants Association has planned, his store will decorate for Texas-OU weekend and will do a tent sale once a month.

“Overall, business is good,” he said.

Union Jack Manager Kim Johnson reported a similar boost in business over the Pride weekend. “It was one of the best we’ve had in a long time.”

Matthew Evans, the store’s newest employee, said it was the busiest weekend he’s seen.

Johnson said that rather than special promotions, he’s relying on new lines of jackets, shoes, accessories and “the works” that are scheduled to arrive for the fall.

One that hit the store recently is a line of Pan Am logo wallets, bags and related merchandise. The items are tied to the premiere of a new TV show about the airline set in the 1960s, and Johnson said sales of those items are especially strong.

Johnson also suggested that new stores opening on the street will help keep shoppers on Cedar Springs.

A hair care supply store is set to open in the old Shades of Gray space behind Hunky’s. And across from there, construction is close to complete on the new Thai-rrific restaurant that should open in October.

However, a coffee shop that had begun construction in the space between Thai-rrific and Macho Nacho abandoned its lease because of permit issues related to parking.

Events drive traffic to the gay strip, and CSMA announced a fall schedule of events through Christmas.

On Oct. 29, Cedar Springs Road will be closed to traffic for the annual Halloween street party, which, Whittall said, is traditionally one of the biggest times for sales along the street.

He said the best time to shop is after the street closes around 4 p.m.

The next sidewalk sale and mini art show is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 19, with artists  showing their work along the strip in conjunction with sales by many of the merchants. A lineup of local vendors in booths is planned as well.

DFW Rescue will be there looking for new homes for pets. Music on the street will add to the day’s festivities.

“That event kicks off the Christmas season on Cedar Springs,” Whittall said.

Two events are scheduled for the first week in December.

On Dec. 2, a holiday dinner theater at the Rose Room will benefit the Cedar Springs Beautification Project. Whittall said the lineup should be announced soon.

On Dec. 7, the DFW Sisters will light the Christmas tree on the patio of TMC: The Mining Company at 7 p.m. Whittall said they plan to have a bigger tree this year. And he hoped to have an announcement soon about additional lighting.

The Oak Lawn Band is slated to perform. The lighting will be followed by a cider and wine stroll. Sexy Santa will be on the street handing out gifts and carolers will perform.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 23, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

CSMA announces new event schedule for 2011

First Wednesday events are ending, but Whittall says quarterly Wine Walks, other regular events will make up the difference

JEFFERSON JOHNSON  |  Staff Writer
intern@dallasvoice.com

Although Cedar Springs Merchant Association is ending its monthly First Wednesday parties, CSMA President Scott Whittall, co-owner of Buli, said this week a calendar of quarterly Wine Walks and monthly events have taken effect.

“We changed our First Wednesday event to a quarterly event for 2011,” Whittall said about one of the first obvious changes taking effect this year.

First Wednesday now will be replaced with a quarterly Wine Walk, he explained. “The wine walks are always a really good turnout and people like the concept.”

Every wine walk will feature a new $5 commemorative glass for guests to take into participating stores to mingle, browse and shop, with the wine offered compliments of the individual stores.

Whittall says it’s also a great way for customers to meet and greet the owners.

By selling commemorative glasses, CSMA hopes to make some money back, which accounts for the cost of the glasses. Proceeds will also help fund future events, plus the glasses will give wine walks a sense of occasion, he said.

Whittall said that even though the Cedar Springs Arts Festivals in both 2009 and 2010 failed to reach their fundraising goals, the spring festival will return this year.

This time, Whittall said, organizers know what pitfalls to watch for, what to do and what not to do.

“We hope to have more than 100 artists and vendors,” Whittall said, compared to last year’s 70 or so.
Whittall said CSMA is known for its interesting fundraising events, like underwear auctions, and for throwing a great street party.

“We’re always racking our brains to come up with some new and exciting fundraisers,” like the Super Street Party the association is holding on Cedar Springs during Super Bowl weekend next month.

The Super Party, sponsored by Bud Light, is one of the larger events CSMA has planed, Whittall said. He said it will be similar to the annual Pride parade, but with a football twist.

Whittall also stressed that the event is not affiliated with the National Football League in any way, but that he hopes it will draw out-of-towners to the area and help spotlight Cedar Springs.

The purpose of all the CSMA events, Whittall said, is to have fun while raising funds to benefit and help beautify the gayborhood.

The bars and merchants along the Cedar Springs strip are faring well, Whittall said. But, he added, “Cedar Springs is not immune to the economic climate.

Whittall said that times have changed over the last 30 years and that Cedar Springs needs the support of the community to survive and thrive. The more support they get, the more money will be available for events and projects.

“Unfortunately, money is everything,” said Whittall.  “It’s hard to go out and raise funds.”

He said CSMA’s solution is to give donors something — like a wine walk or an arts festival — in return, as opposed to simply asking for a donation. More importantly, he added, donations to CSMA come back to the community in several forms.

CSMA uses funds collected to build streetlights for more safety, to improve signage and sidewalks, among other planned improvements, he said.

“The big message here is support,” said Whittall. “It’s the heart of the gay community of Dallas, and we are dedicated to keeping it just that.

“Everybody here is committed to seeing Cedar Springs be here another 30 years,” Whittall concluded. “But we need help. We need everybody’s support to make sure that does happen.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 21, 2001.

—  John Wright