The Journal Gazette
Thursday, November 25, 2021 1:00 am


Downtown shops count on multi-Saturday event

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

Emily Baker is co-owner of a home goods and furniture store that relocated in March last year to The Landing, a trendy downtown shopping, dining and general gathering spot.

“We've always loved downtown and the restoration and revitalization that was going on, so being in a more high-traffic area was a huge benefit,” said Baker, whose House to Home store was formerly on East Berry Street, skirting the city's core.

Then came COVID-19.

“The timing was pretty rough,” Baker said. “We actually had our grand reopening the week before things shut down.”

Things are better this year, and Baker hopes the trend continues. Her business is among the participants in the Days of Holly Shopping, coordinated by the Downtown Improvement District.

In past years, the organization promoted a one-day event known nationally as Small Business Saturday. But like the general retail trend, particularly with the ongoing pandemic, shoppers are being enticed with sales and promotions over a longer period. This year's local small business promotion starts with the traditional Saturday after Thanksgiving and runs every Saturday through Dec. 18.

And local organizers this year have added a new incentive to attract shoppers – a drawing for a downtown package valued at $500. To be eligible for the giveaway, diners and shoppers must get at least eight stamps from participating businesses on a Holiday Passport. Details and passports are online at By Nov. 12, about 20 retailers and at least half a dozen restaurants had agreed to participate, said Preston Wallace, director of marketing for the Downtown Improvement District.

Those who show up for the Days of Holly Shopping can expect a festive atmosphere. Santa, Buddy the Elf, the Grinch, Anna and Elsa will make special guest appearances to engage shoppers from the back of a moving trolley, a news release said. Carolers will provide entertainment, and Hops Harvester will provide hayrides on select dates, connecting shoppers to businesses throughout the area.

Trolley rides will not be available to the public for this year's event.

Baker, who has six employees, said House to Home had to get creative and also use online platforms to push sales in the early months of the pandemic. In some ways, the fact that many people spent more time at home to comply with social distancing helped.

The Days of Holly Shopping might help promote the customer service for which some smaller, local stores are known.

“One of our unique selling (points) is you can buy from the floor,” Baker said, adding that shoppers buying items from some larger stores have to place orders and can wait six months for delivery.

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