WILMINGTON — Although downtown businesses are temporarily closed, the work of Main Street Wilmington has continued over the past month with the goal of boosting spirits and business activity.
“Just like everyone else, we had plenty of activities underway and summer plans made, when everything just stopped in mid-March,” said Main Street Director Darcy Reynolds. “Since then, we have kept plugging away on existing projects, while creating new initiatives and re-scheduling the signature events our community loves.
“There are still so many unknowns, but our goal is to have a calendar of activities for people to both anticipate and participate in — safely. We all need something to look forward to.”
One project that recently ended was the second annual Pride of Wilmington Professional Photography Contest. Running March 1-31, the contest was open to local photographers as an opportunity to depict images of our hometown.
Six local photographers entered their work, which was displayed at 41 N. South St. courtesy of South Street Gallery owner John Schum.
With over 160 community votes cast, first place was awarded to Kathryn Wilkie for her photo “Harvest”; second place to Annen Vance for “Last Ride”; and third place to Emily Lawson for “High School Day Dreams”.
These three photos along with a fourth photo, “Days Gone By” by Barb Regan were selected to be reproduced as community postcards, which will be available from Main Street free of charge, on a donation-only basis.
Gift card give-away
As a way of bolstering spirits and commerce during business closures and limited operations, Main Street started a gift card give-away in mid-March. The goal was to purchase gift cards from downtown businesses and then in return give them to any downtown patrons using carry-out, drive-thru, or on-line options.
To comply with expanded safe distancing rules, Main Street then partnered with banks, pharmacies and restaurants to distribute the gift cards through their drive through windows to reach customers.
“We are grateful for all the support and assistance with our gift card give-way,” said Reynolds. “We know that our purchases alone don’t scratch the surface of what our local businesses are losing but we want to help in the small ways we can.”
To assist with communication during this time, Main Street is offering all businesses free pre-printed posters for their windows which can be customized with adjusted store hours, on-line specials, sales or any message the business prefers. Posters can be obtained by emailing Info@mainstreetwilmington.com.
In an effort to spread some cheer and encouragement, Main Street assembled some amazing local artists who volunteered their time and talent to paint storefront windows in the downtown, while practicing social distancing.
Organized by Main Street’s Assistant Director, Sabrina Bowman, six local businesses were recently decorated with colorful images and inspiring messages.
“We are so appreciative of businesses who entrusted us with their windows to talk to the community,” Bowman said. Main Street is planning a second round of storefront painting on April 21.
Main Street is proud to have partnered with several community groups to produce a Clinton County COVID-19 Information Guide which residents are receiving by mail. Many thanks to the Clinton County Port Authority and HealthFirst for Clinton County for funding along with the Clinton County Regional Planning Commission, City of Wilmington, Clinton County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Wilmington-Clinton County Chamber of Commerce and Clinton County Emergency Management Agency for making this project happen.
This county-specific guide is an invaluable resource for all, particularly those households without internet access.
If your summer calendar looks a little sparse, be sure to check Main Street’s Facebook and website regularly for the latest news on happenings downtown. Based on the COVID-19 distancing information available now, Main Street anticipates the June Third Friday/Classic Car Cruise-In scheduled for June 15 will take place as planned. Changes to the typical party format may occur, but the event will go on!
The annual Wine Walk themed after the Roaring ’20s and 2020, has been re-scheduled for Friday July 17, replacing the usual July Third Friday gathering.
“The Wine Walk is a well-loved night of fun that people look forward to every year. We are committed to holding it safely within the public health guidelines that are in place in July. Our fingers are crossed on this one,” said Reynolds. Wine Walk tickets will go on sale in mid-June.
And for motorcycle lovers, the August Third Friday will again offer a chance to show off your machine. Bike night is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 21 on Sugartree Street. All fall events including the Art & Soul Festival and Craft Beer Rally are currently on as scheduled.
Main Street Wilmington is committed to supporting downtown business and residents during this unprecedented business shut down and beyond. We really are all in this together! Visit Mainstreetwilmington.com or on Facebook @DowntownWilmington