50 Years—50 Stories

Grand Avenue Business Association Turned 50

On February 15th, the Grand Avenue Business Association (GABA) passed its 50th Anniversary as an organization. Throughout the next 12 months GABA will be celebrating this momentous occasion with a variety of events and special promotions.

Starting next week producing the  “50 Years—50 Stories” series. Over the next 50 weeks GABA will feature a different GABA business.

From Simple Beginnings and Goals

The Grand Avenue Business Association was started by a group of business owners who were concerned at the downward trend of Grand Avenue. Crime was on the rise, property values were on the decline, while businesses were moving off the avenue or just closing their doors.

At first there was a lot of skepticism that Grand Avenue was too long, nearly four miles, for one organization to work. Throughout this time a group of business owners met on a regular basic to keep the idea alive. Eventually, they elected their first president, Wally Peters. The group set three goals for the organization that day:
• Reduction of crime on Grand
• Improvement of Street Lighting
• Repair of the surface of the street

Although it is hard to believe now, at the inception of GABA Grand Avenue was well on its way to being a forgotten street, with nothing much to offer outside visitors. Through the tenacity of the founding members and their tireless hours of work and visionary focus Grand Avenue turned the corner and it is because of them that Grand Avenue is what it is today.
Since then, even though the goals have changed. Grand Avenue business owners continue to their tirelessly work towards maintaining current businesses and promote growth.

In addition to handling the day to day needs of business, for 43 of its 50 years in existence, the Grand Avenue Business Association continues to produce two of the longest running, highly respected events in the Midwest: Grand Meander, Grand Avenue’s celebration of the holidays and Grand Old Days, one of the largest outdoor events in the region. GABA also produces Paws on Grand, Grand Oktoberfest and BooFest of Grand.

Now, 50 Years later, Grand Avenue Business Association has withstood the skeptics and the test of time. The organization remains dedicated to bringing businesses together as one unified voice. Its members and officers continue to work towards keeping Grand Avenue as one of the premier shopping destinations in the Midwest.

Much has changed in 50 years, but the one thing that remains the same—Grand Avenue business owners have a passion for maintaining Grand Avenue as a premier shopping destination. Historic buildings continued to be restored. Every years Grand Avenue makes a “Best of List” for destinations. It is now home to many unique shops, boutiques, award winning restaurants and high-end national merchants.

Current Mission of the Grand Avenue Business Association

“The Grand Avenue Business Association provides marketing, advocacy, and education to help member businesses prosper and enhance the quality of life along the Avenue and surrounding community.”

Information for the History of Grand Avenue Business Association was from: “Grand Avenue, The Renaissance of an Urban Street” written by Billie Young and David Lanegran, ©1996 Biloine Whiting Young and David Lanegran
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