First Choice Professionals presents second annual ‘Jazz in the Alley’

With spring here and summer nipping at its heels, downtown businesses are starting to plan the second annual Jazz in the Alley.

In fact, the event was so successful last year that organizers are expanding the mini-jazz festival into two evenings, July 18-19.

“It went far and above what we expected,” said Rick Roberts, owner of Lady Truffles. “We had customers shopping and spending money until 10:15 that evening even though the music ended around 8:30 p.m. People were everywhere, still walking up and down Washington Street.”

Developed in 2007 by a small group of Sequim merchants and local jazz vocalist Tracy Blume, along with the support of the networking group First Choice Professionals, Jazz in the Alley was created to attract people downtown during Lavender Festival weekend. Now, the event is being steered by a larger committee of business owners and musicians and is expected to attract even more passersby.

“We set a high goal (for sales last year) and went 25 percent above that, and that was just one night,” Roberts said. “We had even more people the next day.”

Featuring live music, food, beverages and late-night shopping at participating stores, Jazz in the Alley is designed to complement the Sequim Lavender Festival.

“We want to make it so people have a reason to come downtown, shop and see what we have to offer after they are done touring farms, not to take away from the festival,” Roberts told the Gazette last July. “Those visiting the area simply can’t get an accurate image of Sequim without visiting the heart of it.”

Jazz in the Alley organizers continue to work hand-in-hand with Lavender Festival authorities and it listed as a special event on the official Sequim Lavender Festival Web site.

“Jazz in the Alley is wonderful. It’s great to have additional venues,” said Scott Nagel, festival executive director. “We encourage a wide variety of community activities during the festival to create an atmosphere of celebration in the community. We encourage more people to come up with similar great ideas; we are always looking for more activities to include in the program.”

Roberts encourages fellow business owners to jump on the Jazz in the Alley bandwagon. Washington Street businesses can participate as venues; merchants off the beaten path can lend a hand as sponsors.

“The biggest thing is to get involved now,” Roberts said. “This is going to keep growing each year and is a huge Lavender Festival weekend attraction. Being involved is a plus because then you are on the map whether you are a vendor or a sponsor.”

“People have been buzzing about Jazz in the Alley since last year, talking about it for months straight,” Roberts continued. “The community knows it’s coming and are planning to come out.”

Musicians and merchants merge to promote downtown Sequim

The second annual First Choice Professionals Jazz in the Alley is Friday and Saturday evenings, July 18-19. Organizers are seeking musicians, artists, venue hosts and sponsors. Applications must be received by April 1. For more information, call 670-6375.

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