New Special Business District President Brings Fresh Perspective to the Loop
HSB Tobacconist owner Jessica Bueler filled Joe Edwards' old role in February.
With Blueberry Hill owner Joe Edwards stepping down as president, the Loop Special Business District has elected a new face to represent the collective of business owners down the celebrated six-block stretch of Delmar Boulevard through University City and St. Louis.
The board convened in February to elect HSB Tobacconist owner Jessica Bueler as the new president. The position comes with a one-year term and the responsibility of organizing annual events like the Ice Carnival and speaking on behalf of the district.
Edwards, meanwhile, has devoted his time to working out the details on the forthcoming Loop Trolley.
"Even though Joe is amazing, he is only one person and there's only so much effort he can give," Bueler said. "We’re very good friends, and we’re a very cohesive group of people."
Track construction is slated to commence later this year, with the final product scheduled to be ready toward the end of 2012 or the beginning of 2013, Bueler said. The seven trolleys -- replicas of the streetcars of yore that gave "The Loop" its name -- will run on electricity.
Bueler, 29, has owned the tobacco shop for four years. Founded 37 years ago by her late father, the family business's initials once stood for "High Street Boutique."
"It started as a high-end women’s fashion store," Bueler said.
The store also sold fancy cigarette cases and clove cigarettes, and sooner or later, selling smokes became more profitable than fashion wear.
Also the head of the Marketing Committee, Bueler intends to expand the Loop's Internet presence in order to connect with customers and provide information quickly and for free.
"We're revamping our website right now and going full force with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube," Bueler said. "As time changes, you have to change your business with the times and make sure you’re advancing with the current environment."
Edwards founded the Loop Special Business District in 1980 and served as president ever since. As someone born into the family business and invested in the community, Bueler hopes to apply her professional skills as the president for a term of equal length.
"I eat, sleep and dream business," she said. "It's something I've always been very good at. One of my nicknames in high school and college was 'Business Bueler.'"
The Business District has considered extending the Ice Carnival for an extra day.
"We don’t know if it's going to happen this next year, or maybe the next year once the trolleys are open," Bueler said.
Another project in the works is the street adoption program. The idea, conceived by Moonrise Hotel General Manager Steve Butcher, encourages businesses to take responsibility for keeping a designated section of Delmar clean.
"We're seeing who’s interested in doing it still and receiving responses by email," Bueler said. "It's just another way for businesses to help get involved."
About a month into her term, Bueler took a stand against new parking fees for the public lots behind Cicero's and Fitz's at the City Council meeting on March 14. The proposed measure would charge $1 for evening parking at either of the two lots, which are owned by the City of University City.
"University City has always provided free parking for the businesses for the revitalization of the Loop since Joe took over 30 years ago," Bueler said. "We are grateful that U City has always done that ... We're hoping to find a citywide solution instead of that one area."