When you see the yellow jackets swarming on Market, you know Downtown Visions is on the scene. However, squint behind those scenes and you might catch a glimpse of Lani Schweiger – and if you don’t know what she looks like, you certainly know her style.
At the helm of the Downtown Visions and Downtown Wilmington DE social channels, she’s a constant presence on Market, spreading the word on where to find restaurant specials after the annual Jaycees Christmas Parade on Small Business Saturday, or the best Loop Night hotspots, or what’s happening at the Rodney Square Farmer’s Market.
We sat her down to ask five questions about what she has seen from the other side of Facebook…
Tell us about how Market has changed since you came to Downtown Visions.
So I've been here 10 years now. Back when I started, it was just a different environment. There weren’t as many residential options as there are now. It’s gone from being a business district to being, not just a neighborhood, but a real community. Now, when I'm walking the street in the middle of the day, I see like lots of people jogging. I see lots of people walking their dogs. They pop in their apartments on their break and take the dogs outside. You never saw that before.
Do you remember a moment where you felt that change happening?
I think maybe at one of the Ladybug festivals. Downtown Visions is a sponsor and I remember one year it was extremely crowded, and it was really hot too. At the time, they were doing it on a weekday night, a Thursday. And I couldn't believe how many people came out after work. The streets were just mobbed with people from all walks of life, all ages, families with kids, groups of friends, and it was just an amazing thing. It was schedule to end at 10 o’clock but by 10:30 at night, it was still packed with people. So that was amazing, especially seeing Ladybug from its inception all the way to where it is now. It started with a couple hundred people, and now it's thousands.
What’s your favorite part of the job?
I enjoy anything where I am interacting with the business owners one on one, like how I work very closely with Elvis and Joe (at Ernest & Scott Taproom and Chelsea Tavern) when they do their events for Cinco de Mayo and the Brewfest. I'll go down and shoot some video, and even though the stuff that I do isn't on the scale of a production company, it's a little extra thing that they can use for marketing. And we push out the information, where you can get tickets and parking and stuff, on all of our social media channels.
If you could wave your magic wand and bring something to Market that’s not here yet, what would that be?
I'd like to see something that would help the existing businesses, because I feel like we're all in this together. I know that the restaurants really do better when there's stuff happening downtown, like shows at The Queen or The Playhouse or The Grand, so I'd like to see more entertainment. Maybe more for the DCAD kids to do? Like … a bowling alley! A small bowling alley. A six-lane alley that was cool and old school and had a vintage feel, or it could be modern and have lights and glow bowling. I've always wanted to open a bowling alley. A small one! Not one of those huge ones. Something you'd see in Brooklyn. Or one of those where they use skinnier pins and the ball is smaller. That's something you could do with a younger kid even.
From the vantage point you have, what do you see for the future on Market?
I've lived in the city of Wilmington since I was three, so I not only want to see downtown succeed, but the whole city. I just appreciate everybody who has a hand in it – the city, the mayor's office, the private sector, and the nonprofits. We all want to see it succeed. We all want to see it grow. We all have the same like goal in mind and you know, we obviously need to work together because we're working towards the same thing.
The city will continue evolve, and everybody can grow together. It's a team effort. I know everybody wants to take the lead, but sometimes you realize you have a bigger impact when you support each other. So that's what I try to do. It’s about supporting those who need it so they can achieve what they're going for. That's what helps.