Neighborhood Tours 2
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Mid City Merchants promote Government Street areas
COLETTE DEAN

Special to The Advocate One neighborhood of note in Area 6 belongs to a collection of merchants who gather to promote themselves, each other, and the areas around them.

Mid City Merchants, established in 1991, is a group of civic-minded business owners and organizations who contribute to the beautification of the Mid City area and maintain a scholarship fund for Baton Rouge Community College.

“The main reason we started was to bring people into the area,” said Liz Walker, charter board member of Mid City Merchants and owner of the Elizabethan Gallery.

At last count, over 160 member businesses are locally owned and represent arts, design, and a shopping district.

The businesses stretch out along Government Street intersecting a variety of neighborhoods for several miles.

“We really serve the business community within all of these neighborhoods,” Walker said.

The group is perhaps most known in Baton Rouge for sponsoring the art hops:

“White Light Nights,” now 20 years old, and the 14-year old “Hot Art, Cool Nights.”

It’s during the art hops that onlookers can stroll portions of Government Street after hours by foot or shuttle, duck into businesses, meet local artists, hear live music, and enjoy hors d’oeuvres and beverages.

The art hops have been great for camaraderie of the business owners and great for business.

Peggy Day, owner of Shavarsh K Jewelry Design, said, “I absolutely don’t think I’d still be in business if it weren’t for those art hops. That’s where so many people discover who and what we are.”

Walker said she believes that by forming Mid City Merchants, it helped develop a sense of a true community enjoyed by young and old.

“We notice a lot of young people wanting to move here and belong to a hip area. I think the various art galleries, combined with the location of some great schools and the redevelopment of Government Street, will continue to make property values rise,” she said.