Late night Friday shopping starts this week, and though it’s only scheduled to last the four weeks before Christmas, one business owner is hoping it could spark an enduring tradition that lasts all year round.
Justin Pelant, owner of Ted Allen’s Jewellery, remembers when he was younger Baker Street businesses were always open late Fridays. But when he bought his business six years ago, those days were long gone.
“By five or six o’clock, nearly everything’s closed and Baker Street is like a ghost town,” Pelant said, noting there’s only a few gear shops that regularly keep their doors open later.
Just having a few shops open longer hours isn’t enough to lure people downtown to shop, Pelant said, so this year he and a few other business owners contacted all the downtown shops to ask if they’d be willing to stay open late Fridays for holiday shopping.
“Almost every retail store on Baker Street is on board to give it a try,” Pelant said.
On November 30 and December 7, 14 and 21 downtown stores will be open until at least 7 p.m. and some will stay open later.
A number of restaurants, cafes and bars will also be offering discounts for late night shoppers who come in with their receipts.
Tanya Finley, owner of Finley’s pub and Sage tapas bar, said the restaurants want to add extra incentive for people to shop local.
“For people who go out of town shopping to save a couple of dollars, we want to give them the opportunity to stay here and get that savings on their dinner bill instead,” Finley said. “It’s a way of thanking people for supporting our local business community.”
Pelant expects the longer hours will also make it easier for people in neighbouring communities, like Castlegar and Trail, who come to Nelson for a night out to also do some shopping while they’re here.
“It comes down to customer service,” he said. “Businesses need to be open when the customers want you there.”
Pelant knows that many downtown businesses are owner operated and working longer hours isn’t always desirable. But he’s hoping an increase in customers will make it worth their while.
“If this is something customers want, they need to get out and take advantage of it,” Pelant said. “It’s like anything, if the customers don’t support it, it won’t last.”
If late night Friday shopping does catch on year round, Pelant will be asking the City to put more lights downtown to make the streets more inviting.
For now, the Christmas tree lights being turned on this week will brighten things up a bit.
“It will be great to see a bright and bustling downtown on a Friday nights this month, any maybe longer,” Pelant said.
For a full list of participating retail stores and restaurants, see the Friday Night Shopping advertisement in the Nelson Star.