The new head of the merchants’ association in Westboro sees wisdom in having as much knowledge as possible.
Mary Thorne is the executive director of the Westboro Village BIA.
That’s one of the reasons why Mary Thorne, the latest executive director of the Westboro Village business improvement area, has made it such a priority to find out about who’s shopping in the district.
Since she took over the position in April from previous ED Natalie Hanson, the BIA has hired a private firm to interview shoppers in the area.
“Westboro Village is growing, it’s changing, it’s becoming even better and better, so it’s important to monitor when you’re in business those changes and then make your decision in terms of how your business should look going forward,” she said.
Ms. Thorne, whose background is with shopping centres such as the Dufferin Mall in Toronto as well as several others in the Maritimes, said this is important for both the BIA and the businesses that pay to be members.
Stores in the area need to know which markets they need to target their products to and decide on other matters such as whether to expand, she said. That’s why it helps to know information like the ages and average income brackets of customers.
Meanwhile, the business organization that Ms. Thorne heads needs to make sure it knows who is coming to the area so it can better cater to its members.
For example, if the research finds a lot of young mothers shop in the area, then the streets need to be wide enough to accommodate strollers.
The BIA is spending $15,000 – with another $15,000 from the city – on the research.
It’s hired local retail firm Shore Tanner & Associates for the interview portion, while Environics Analytics is set to do a telephone survey as part of the next round of information-gathering.
Ms. Thorne’s other area of emphasis is going to be on street beautification.
The BIA is starting a revamp for the area that she said will bring more flowers, street furniture and garbage cans to the area. It’s already started phase one, which is a basic cleanup.
“I really want to see some more flowers in Westboro Village,” she said. “We’ve got a beautiful district and I would love to see it more colourful and blooming this spring.”
The area for which the BIA is responsible stretches from Island Park Drive in the east to Golden Avenue in the west and includes Richmond Road as its major thoroughfare.