If you’ve been waiting to snag that one special item from a business downtown, next weekend may be your chance.
Businesses in the downtown district are having a sidewalk sale Sept. 6 through Sept. 9 in an effort to drum up business downtown and clear the way for new merchandise in their stores.
“So many of our events already benefit the restaurants, which is great, and we want to keep that up, but I do feel like we can concentrate more on events that benefit merchants,” said Kristen Redmon, main street manager. “Events that happen more so during the day, during their normal business hours.”
Some of the businesses planning to take part are Next Chapter Bookstore Books That Change Lives, Dress Up, Upsy Daisy, Image Boutique, Occasions Florist Gainesville, Bees Knees Boutique, Martin Furniture, The Crystal Plate Kids, Christopher's Tuxedo & Bridal, Gem Jewelry and Purchase Effect. The sale is open to all downtown businesses, so some others may join in.
“This change in season provides a great opportunity to help them turn over their merchandise and make room for new shipments,” Redmon said.
The idea came about when Redmon was talking with Linda Orenstein, co-owner of Gem Jewelry with her sister, Temme Schooler. The jewelry store on the square was open for more than 80 years until it closed in 2017.
Orenstein spoke with Redmon about her memories of sidewalk sales back in the jewelry store’s heyday, and Redmon thought it’d be fun to bring those back.
“We would periodically, maybe around a holiday or some kind of occasion, everybody would set out tables,” Orenstein said. “I remember Saul’s used to put tables out there and stack up all their shoes they had one size left or two sizes left and they would just stack the tables with all these shoes.”
If everything goes to plan, Gem Jewelry will be offering some of their gift items still stocked away in the store. You won’t see any jewelry, but you could see some of their larger items like bowls, trays and dishes.
“In the past when we have done these sidewalk sales, they have brought traffic,” Orenstein said. “And that to me is the point: to get people to come downtown. Once they’re down here, sometimes they haven’t been back in a long time and they don’t realize all the great stuff we have down here.”
Once they see all the new things, they’re more likely to come back, Orenstein said.
Mary Beth Wood, owner at The Crystal Plate, said she’s excited to offer deals to her regular customers as well as any that are new. She’s hoping the sidewalk sale becomes a yearly event.
“We just try to participate in whatever the city does,” Wood said. “It would be great if it happened yearly. It would just pull people down to the square (which) would be wonderful.”
The Crystal Plate specializes in bridal registry items and gifts, but Wood said she plans to have some pottery and acrylic ware along with different gift-type items available during the sale,
“Any kind of occasion that you can draw more people in is better for everybody,” Wood said.
And that’s what Redmon is focused on. As more people visit the square for the sidewalk sale, she’s hoping everyone benefits.
“We’re working on bringing more merchant-friendly events to the square,” Redmon said. “With our sidewalk sale, I know our restaurants are going to benefit, because people eat three times a day. But how often do they shop? So, I definitely want the merchants to feel the impact in a good way.”