Overall feeling: One Spark a success

Downtown businesses, creators reap benefits of event

Several creative "thinkers" and "doers" find themselves winners in the "crowdfunding festival." Some locals and business owners say the event brought more visitors and business to downtown Jacksonville.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – If you were there to see it, you might agree: One Spark was a big success, not just for the creators, but also for businesses around downtown.

One of them is Chamblin's Uptown on Laura Street. During the five-day festival, the quaint little book store and coffee shop doubled its sales.

"It was quite a success. It surprised me, as far as overall," owner Ron Chamblin said. "Not just my store, but overall. Overall, the impact."

Chamblin said the most exciting thing was meeting new faces.

"The other gain is we had a lot of new customers," he said. "They would walk in and say, 'Oh, I didn't know you were here.'"

Those with One Spark say there's no doubt other businesses felt the same boost, especially for a first-time event. They estimate that 130,000 people were there, and more than 50,000 votes were cast for the exhibits.

Among those winners is Rethreaded, a nonprofit group that helps women as they move from a life in the sex trade. The dollars it won will help save several women.

"The most moving moment was when we were walking off the stage with our giant check and the crowd is just clapping, saying, 'Thank you so much for what you're doing, thank you, thank you, thank you," said Kristin Hart, of Rethreaded.

The mayor says the festival's success was a group effort.

"It had an impact on everybody, and again, it speaks to the city, the fact that the city can't do it alone," Mayor Alvin Brown said. "It takes a lot of people who believe in the future of this great city."

One Spark spokesman Abel Harding said event planners are already looking forward to next year. They say it'll be bigger and better.

"I think the team is incredibly excited as evidenced by the fact that we started the brainstorming," Harding said. "The brainstorming started within an hour of the event ending, so we're so excited."