Changes to First Fridays in the Crossroads Arts District won’t impact plans for October’s annual Startup Crawl KC, but other entrepreneurs who frequent the community event as street vendors could use support, Adam Arredondo said.
“It’s business as usual for us and we’re excited to host the community and showcase more than 50 startups at our five stops in the heart of the Crossroads,” said Arredondo, executive director of the Kansas City Startup Foundation — the parent organization of Startland News and Startup Crawl KC.
Following the death of 25-year-old Erin Langhofer — who was shot and killed Aug. 2 during First Fridays — the Crossroads Community Association chose to refocus the monthly event on the arts, explained Rick Usher, KCMO assistant city manager for entrepreneurship and small business. The CCA isn’t welcoming vendors to First Fridays Sept. 6 because of a loss of general liability insurance as a result of the shooting.
“They have obtained a festival permit [for October] similar to the festival permit issued for Irish Fest,” Usher explained, offering an example of the organizational structure behind First Fridays. “The festival permit allows the permit holder to manage the vendor activity within the boundaries of the permit area.”
Without the familiar energy vendors bring to First Fridays, Startup Crawl could experience less street activity, Arredondo acknowledged, but he isn’t worried, he said.
“Last year was the first time the two events coincided … Startup Crawl attracted about 400 people in 2017 prior to being on First Fridays so we’re confident the event will be well attended even if First Fridays’ foot traffic is down,” Arredondo said, highlighting year-to-year growth of the event which will take guests on a five-location opportunity to meet Kansas City innovators and experience their startup ideas firsthand.
Crawl stops are planned at Lead Bank, Academy Bank, WeWork Corrigan Station, Plexpod Crossroads, and Big Brothers Big Sisters, explained Jessica Powell, director of experiences at the Kansas City Startup Foundation and lead organizer of Startup Crawl.
“Startup Crawl is truly a community event and we don’t want people to hesitate to come out and see what innovation looks like in the Crossroads but also in Kansas City,” Powell said.
“If Kansas City wants to be the most entrepreneurial city in the country, they should find a way to support these entrepreneurs,” Powell said of the value street vendor involvement brings to the monthly event.
As the neighborhood shifts its focus of the event, entrepreneurs who frequently park food trucks and stage pop-up shops throughout the Crossroads are looking for ways to make up lost income, Arredondo noted.
“For someone who works every First Fridays, that’s what, eight a year? Assuming no one is out in the winter … that’s potentially 12-percent of someone’s income,” he explained.
According to Usher, the CCA plans to welcome street vendors back the Crossroads in October, assuming its insurance policy is reinstated.
Startland News reached out to the organization for confirmation but did not receive a response.
With no solid guarantee they’ll be welcomed back to First Fridays, Kansas City food truck vendors — such as Meltbox Ice Cream — have crafted backup plans.
Click here to read a 41 Action News report that highlights similar plans.
A means for assisting the entrepreneurial community impacted by changes, Usher has been in talks with area food truck vendors and hopes to work with them to organize supplemental events throughout the month, he said.
Other Crossroads entrepreneurs, such as Steve Revare, co-founder of Tom’s Town Distilling Co., are eager to see how the transition plays out for established businesses in the area.
“We support returning First Fridays back to what it was; a celebration of the galleries, bars, and restaurants permanently located in the Crossroads,” Revare said in support of the CCA’s decision.
“We love our neighborhood and look forward to an experience spread out among all the great neighborhoods that make up this Arts District,” he added.