By DOUG WILSON
Herald-Whig Senior Writer
The Historic Quincy Business District has a new e-commerce site that can help its members sell products to a shoppers nationwide.
ShopDowntownQuincy.com went live at 5:07 p.m. Wednesday and is considered the nation's first downtown cooperative e-commerce site.
"This new site will give our member businesses the ability to sell in our online store for a fraction of the cost of a traditional e-commerce site," said HQBD Executive Director Travis Brown.
"You will be able to shop by a particular store or a type of product line. You can access gift certificates from downtown businesses and receive weekly specials as updated by our businesses. All these items will be shipped directly to your door."
The website was created through a partnership between the HQBD, the Great River Economic Development Foundationn and Rokusek Design. It joins an HQBD smart phone app unveiled at last year's annual meeting as a valuable communications tool for the district.
During the HQBD annual meeting Wednesday night, Thyme Square Cafe was presented the 2012 HQBD Business of the Year Award. Erica and Cory Shupe opened their business at the southeast corner of Fifth and Hampshire 2 1/2 years ago. They focus on buying from local growers as a farm-to-table restaurant.
Those nominating Thyme Square for the honor noted that the "staff is always courteous and professional and their meals are fantastic."
Sue Schwartz was named the 2012 Bob Mays Volunteer of the Year Award.
"When Quincy was selected to host the Illinois Main Street Conference, she was the first person to volunteer," said Myron Kirsch, a longtime friend and business partner of the late Bob Mays.
Schwartz, who previously won a volunteer of the year award, also helped make the Christkindl market a success.
"Her selflessness has made this organization and its events run smoothly for years," Kirsch said.
Riverside Smokehouse won the New Business of the Year.
Jim Mentesti, who retired last year after nearly 27 years as president of the Great River Economic Development Foundationn, was presented the district's Economic Development Award.
Krazy Cakes was honored with the Design Committee Award.
John Johannes won the Organization Committee Award.
Reed Promotional Media won the Promotion Committee Award.
The 75-block district generally extending from Front to 12th Street and from Broadway to State Street also was in the spotlight at the annual meeting. An HQBD membership drive resulted in a 37 percent increase in traditional memberships. The organization was joined by three individuals, seven non-profit organizations and 28 businesses last year. Membership fees alone meant nearly $5,000 in additional operational funds. The district now has 583 businesses, up 15 from a year ago.
Cash Mobs were introduced last year to draw attention and customers to specific businesses. Construction and repairs on parking lots K and I have improved parking in the district. And a streetscape project was completed in the area near the Kroc Center and the Adams County Health Department.
This year the HQBD will seek 501c3 status to become eligible for grants and boost its long-term sustainability.