Celebrate Downtown at the EC
Merchants anticipate excitement, if not more sales
by Katie Dettman
Downtown merchants are gearing up for this weekend’s Eugene Celebration expect big sales and discounts, but don’t expect extended hours.
Some retail merchants are excited about the Celebration and plan to enjoy the crowds and the sights but do not expect any increased sales as a result, even if their shops lie in the midst of it all.
For one thing, there will be a greatly reduced amount of available parking, and Celebration-goers don’t want to carry bags full of merchandise with them all day, according to Kenny Herrin, owner of Letterhead Fine Papers and Gifts on Eighth Avenue. Letterhead is closed every Sunday, and this weekend is no exception. “The Celebration will bring in lots of foot traffic, but it’s not worth being open an extra day,” he says.
Despite not expecting extra sales, Herrin is excited about the Eugene Celebration and plans to watch the parade from his shop’s front windows. “Sometimes people don’t want to get behind Eugene, [but] we have to start applauding it it’s a great town. I’m 100 percent behind anything that gets it on the map and brings people downtown,” said Herrin.
Eighth and 10th Avenues are the boundaries of the Celebration on the north and south, and Oak and Charnelton are the boundaries on the east and west.
Harlequin Beads, located just outside the Celebration boundary on Willamette near 10th, plans to hold a blowout sale during the Celebration to try to lure potential customers into the shop. They are offering a 50 percent discount on all loose beads and a 25 percent discount on “everything else,” according to manager Michelle Rose. But Rose explained that some find it challenging to get to Harlequin during the Celebration, because organizers erect barriers that make it look as though the rest of Willamette is closed off. Willamette is not closed off, and bikes and pedestrians should be able to get to the Harlequin block with ease.
Billy Elias, co-owner of Magical Dreamtime gift shop, next door to Harlequin, suggests that the Celebration begin distribution of discount coupons for local businesses with admission, or a map of all vendors in the area, to make the Celebration work better for downtown vendors.
Restaurateurs mostly don’t plan to extend their hours of operation for the Celebration. Barbara Whitehorse, restaurant and bar manager at Rock n’ Rodeo/Charro’s on the corner of 7th and Willamette, explained that their hours extend longer than the event, so they do not plan to offer extended hours. They do notice a small increase in sales when the Celebration is in town, however. “It always works out well,” said Whitehorse.
Unfortunately, this year you can’t plan to have brunch at the Broadway wine shop (at the corner of Broadway and Charnelton) this year, for the store is no longer serving food. Co-owner Ellen Chamberlain explained that the owners hope to bring their chef back next month for small plates, but at the moment their food sales are not profitable.
Still, you don’t need a Celebration bracelet/wristband ($12 for three days) to shop and eat downtown. From the new Café Maroc to Smith Family Books, from the Bagel Sphere to clothing boutiques, downtown’s open for business during the EC.
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Celebrate Downtown at the EC Merchants anticipate excitement, if not more sales
The Official Eugene Celebration Site Schedule, Map, Directions and more