‘Myrna on Main Street’ web series aims to increase engagement in local businesses
The series helps independent Tenleytown businesses struggling from the pandemic
From the Newsstands: This story appeared in The Eagle's April 2023 print edition. You can find the digital version here.
When a local music shop needed to create a video describing their business for a grant program, they tapped Tenleytown resident and owner of Middle C Music Myrna Sislen to narrate it.
According to Sislen, presenting the video felt very comfortable, especially the humorous aspects. After filming the video, Sislen decided to look at other submissions for the program.
“I looked at a local one, a cheese shop on Capitol Hill,” Sislen said. “The owner of the cheese shop never showed you a piece of cheese. And I thought this is really quite something, where's the cheese in this cheese shop?”
Seeing the cheese shop’s video after helping to create a different one gave Sislen the idea for the “Myrna on Main Street” video series. With the goal of helping out independent Tenleytown businesses that may be struggling after the pandemic, Sislen creates humorous and informative videos business owners can use on their own social media platforms.
The “Myrna on Main Street” video series is a part of Tenleytown Main Street, a nonprofit organization that works with local residents and businesses to create a “business district that is a thriving, walkable, and friendly neighborhood center,” according to its website.
According to Kyle Todd, the executive director of Tenleytown Main Street, the organization works directly with owners to provide “business health checks.” Checks may include cosmetic improvements, additional hiring or giving businesses need-based grants from the program.
Since the creation of the “Myrna on Main Street” video series, Sislen has created a variety of different videos, including wearing flippers and a divers mask to promote a diving shop, making pizza for a pizza restaurant or doing yoga against a wall for a yoga studio.
“The good part of this is, I am old,” Sislen said. “So I will do basically anything. If I get embarrassed, I don't care, it's all something that will work for the business.”
After filming each video, Sislen sends a flash drive of the video that the business can use in their own promotion at no cost.
Todd said currently, D.C. businesses are in what is known as the “recovery mode” after the coronavirus lockdowns.
“Businesses are still hurting,” Todd said. “Our goal right now is to not only do corridor-wide promotional events to get visitors into the neighborhoods, but to work with businesses for some very targeted promotional activities, just for those businesses.”
One promotional event that Tenleytown Main Street has introduced for the spring semester is Tenleytown Tuesdays, where businesses give discounts to anyone with an educational ID, including AU staff, faculty and students.
According to Sislen, people have come up to her on the street and recognized her from the video series.
“People ... say that they’ve seen them, that they love the episode, ... lots of people have gone, ‘Well, wait a minute, American Valet, I didn't know that you could get your shoes fixed there,’” Sislen said. “... So it’s the awareness, and people are watching them. And hopefully, it’s helping the businesses. How the business uses it, on their own, is really up to them. And hopefully they are using it.”