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Handmade quilts and bags at the Downtown Holiday Market. Photo courtesy of Intown Manchester.




Discover Downtown Holiday Series

When: Daily through Friday, Dec. 19
Where: Downtown, Main Street, Concord
See: intownconcord.org
 
Manchester Downtown Holiday Market
When: Thursday, Dec. 11 and Thursday, Dec. 18, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 13, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Where: Brady Sullivan Plaza, 1000 Elm St., Manchester
See: intownmanchester.com




Give local
Downtown holiday events keep the focus on shopping locally

12/11/14
By Allie Ginwala aginwala@hippopress.com



Forget navigating crowded malls or shopping alone on your laptop this season. Intown Concord and Intown Manchester have organized downtown events that give shoppers the chance to buy from local, independent stores and businesses.

“More and more people are starting to do the whole shop local thing,” said Julia Whitney, marketing coordinator for Intown Manchester. 
To support that trend, Intown Manchester will open up the Downtown Holiday Market for three more days this season. The day-long market is held in the Brady Sullivan Plaza, where local vendors display their handmade crafts and goods. 
“We have some maple syrup, chocolate, tie dye, woodworks, jewelry, ornaments and postcards, beauty products, glassware, and doll clothes,” Whitney said in a phone interview. “We try and get as much as we can in there.”
Entrance to the market is free, so people can come in and out during the day. 
“We get a lot of lunch groups,” Whitney said. “It’s definitely an all-day [event].” 
She said the idea is to bring people downtown for the crafts and keep them downtown for more shopping. 
“I think people want to build the community and the holiday season is a good time to do that,” she said. “If they go shopping they might [also] grab a coffee or lunch.”
Intown Concord hopes to get residents in the holiday shopping spirit with the Discover Downtown Holiday Series, a Main Street-wide event with prize giveaways and extended shopping hours to promote the state capital’s local culture. 
“Our downtown really has been getting different and cooler. Right now it’s very lively,” said Liza Poinier, operations manager for Intown Concord. “[It’s] important for shoppers and potential customers to remember the great experience they had here and to keep coming back.”
Susan Sokul, events and communication coordinator for Intown Concord, said Discover Downtown gives people a “shopping the way it’s meant to be” experience. 
“It’s charming, unique, pleasant, where you can stroll and meet neighbors and friends and wander into one of over 70 shops downtown,” Sokul said.
While you’re perusing the shelves in the expanded Gibson’s Bookstore or warming up with a hot drink at True Brew Cafe, you’re helping to keep the community strong. 
“We have upwards of 200 businesses in downtown Concord that are independent and locally owned. That’s a lot of owners and employees and their families that are counting on holiday shopping to keep them going,” Poinier said. “Not only is it a fun and interesting and great place to shop, but when you choose to shop downtown you’re having a direct impact on the local economy and their merchants who are friends and neighbors.” 
To up the ante and entice more people to spend their dollars downtown, Discover Downtown includes a Win the Window competition where one storefront on Main Street is filled with products and gift cards from nearby stores, restaurants and services worth $2,000. On Dec. 17, four winners will be chosen from the pool of people who filled out and submitted “passports.” 
Shoppers can pick up a “passport” at a participating business (marked by a decal in the window) and if they visit 41 of the 50 participating locations, they have chance to win. 
Another feature in Concord is Open Late Fridays, held on Dec. 12 and 19, when businesses will remain open until 8 or 9 p.m. 
“The people who work during the day can’t always do their holiday shopping during a lunch hour,” Poinier said. “Late-night shopping nights encourage the businesses to stay open a bit later and encourage customers to stick around a bit later.” 
The street will be decorated, with Christmas music playing in the background to make a festive environment. Many participating businesses with have special deals or free food and drink specials as well. 
For both locally focused shopping events, the partnership in the business community is the vital component. 
“Each individual business is putting in effort to make sure this is the best holiday season ever,” Poinier said. “The season is critically important for them. It’s a really nice feeling to be kind of ‘all holiday hands’ and doing this together.”
“I just think that local shops are the heart of our community, and they make for a vibrant downtown that people want to be at,” Whitney said. 
 
As seen in the December 11, 2014 issue of the Hippo.





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