Some downtown Gainesville businesses see a surge in traffic and sales on the first Friday each month, according to local business owners and managers.
First Friday events, including the local farmers market and summer concerts, are hosted by Main Street Gainesville and designed to bring people to the downtown square.
Zach Kitchens, manager of Atlas Pizza in downtown Gainesville, said First Fridays are beneficial to his business.
“We do at least 20 percent more business on First Fridays,” Kitchens said.
Karina Morales, co-manager of Avocados Restaurant in the downtown square, said while she doesn’t know a percentage increase in sales or traffic on First Fridays, she knows they are the busiest night each month at Avocados.
“Actually First Fridays are the days we get more people coming in at night,” Morales said. “We are slower most of the time during the week, but First Fridays are when we get the most people coming in.”
Morales said she sees the biggest increase in alcohol sales on First Fridays thanks to a city council ordinance that allows adults to carry beverages in designated areas downtown with a wristband.
Regina Mansfield, director of Main Street Gainesville, said the point of First Friday events is to recognize downtown Gainesville and what it has to offer.
“It goes along with the Mission of Main Street Gainesville, and that is basically to bring people downtown,” Mansfield said. “We wanted to provide an event, a family fun event that will bring people downtown. While they are downtown, they can shop and dine and enjoy a free night out.”
First Friday events typically bring as many as 1,000 visitors to downtown Gainesville, according to Mansfield.
“I can say right now that during the year we have approximately 50 events that happen downtown that bring 100,000 people downtown,” Mansfield said. “We have a lot of things happening that are bringing people.”
The farmers market starts at 2:30 p.m.; concerts begin at 7 p.m. Mansfield said not all retail businesses are open during the evening portion of First Friday events, but she still believes they can benefit from the extra traffic.
“Sometimes people won’t go in a store that night because they’re getting dinner or at the concert, but they see the store and remember it,” Mansfield said. “That’s the whole point.”
Terry Link, owner of the Jeweled Attic in the downtown square, said her business is one of the retailers not immediately impacted by First Friday events because they are closed during event hours.
“It might benefit us, not that night, but other times because they see the place and walk by and say, ‘Oh, we need to go in there,’” Link said. “I’m thinking it’s a good thing. Any time you want to get people downtown it’s a good thing.”
Mansfield said she hopes downtown events are helping local restaurants and retailers. She said the purpose is to benefit the shopper and the seller.
“We’re all trying to help each other,” she said.