NEWBERRY — Over 20 of downtown Newberry’s shops, restaurants, and retailers are now open for extended hours until 8 p.m. on the third Thursday of every month, in hopes of promoting businesses and raising local support.
Participating stores include Out On A Whim, Making It Personal, Half Full, The Gallery, The Flying Pie, Cabanna Cafe, Grille On Main, Books On Main, and more, according to Barbara Miller, member of the Downtown Merchants Association.
Miller said that shoppers who are downtown at the program period receive a “passport” that enables them to collect stamps in each store they visit. After collecting as many stamps on their “passport” as they can, they can turn it in for the chance to win prizes and free gifts or discounts from shops and restaurants.
According to Dawn Graham, owner of Making It Personal, there were not as many people at the store as she expected during the first Third Thursday on Oct. 17.
Out On A Whim’s owner, Vanessa Yandle, said she believes that with the holidays approaching, the turnout will increase.
The president of the Downtown Merchants Association, Sean Pomeroy said the program will take time to spread out, but he hopes more and more people will come each month.
According to Pomeroy, members of the Downtown Merchants Association and store owners are trying to get the word out by promoting the program through social media, radio ads, posters, and other types of advertisements. He said they expect to get a banner across Main Street.
Pomeroy said the main goal of Third Thursday is not only to promote the businesses, but also to raise local support.
“There are people who live in Newberry who have not been downtown in years because they are used to going to Greenville or Columbia to shop. Our hope is that people will rediscover the local downtown,” Pomeroy said.
The program is a flexible alternative for those who are not able to go downtown during the day because of work, according to Graham.
“When people are going out to eat it makes it convenient to do some shopping after or before they go to dinner,” said Graham.
Miller said the Downtown Merchants Association is planning on having some sort of entertainment going on downtown at those days. She expects to see bands, vocal groups, and maybe Newberry College students performing.
If the program turns out to be popular, Pomeroy hopes to get more hours and more evenings, maybe from Thursday to Sunday.
On their next meeting, the Downtown Merchants Association will be evaluating the outcomes so far and discussing ideas for future Thursdays.
The second shopping evening will be Nov. 21, one day before the Tree Lighting Ceremony on Main Street.
Marina Ziehe is from Brazil, studying Communications at Newberry College, with a minor in Graphic Design.