Umbrella Sharing Encourages Visitors to Linger Longer Downtown

Both Vancouver, BC, and Vancouver, WA, are known for their wet weather. And both downtowns have unveiled umbrella share programs for visitors and residents who find themselves caught in the rain.

In Vancouver, WA, Vancouver’s Downtown Association has operated the Umbrella Share Program for two years, says Michael Walker, the group’s executive director.

The Umbrella Share Program lets anyone borrow a bright yellow umbrella for free. The umbrellas are available at 30 strategically located stations, which include retail shops, restaurants, and other locations.

The program costs $2,000 to $4,000 a year, Walker says. And he thinks the program’s value far outstrips the modest cost.

The association regularly replaces the supply of umbrellas — and the group doesn’t sweat lost umbrellas. They cost $8 apiece, and if a visitor keeps the umbrella, it acts as a reminder to come back downtown.

“Folks will never forget you if they take one home,” Walker says.

More on downtown umbrella sharing appears in the March issue of Downtown Idea Exchange newsletter. Click to learn more about Downtown Idea Exchange and other resources for revitalizing downtowns and commercial corridors.

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