While competing with online retailers this Christmas season has been a struggle for some retailers in Downtown Ardmore, many local businesses got a boost Saturday, with the inaugural Ardmore Parks and Recreation Department’s Stocking Stroll.
Tes Stewart, Recreation Supervisor for the Ardmore Parks and Recreation Department said 30 participants came out to fill their stockings with free swag from across Ardmore’s downtown businesses.
Each participant paid $25 for a stocking and quickly filled it with giveaways from Antiques, Etc., Blake Bush Family Eye Care, Boys and Girls Club, Casa Romo, DaCapo Music, Main Street Coffee, Main Street Mercantile, Moments to Remember, Pocket Shop, Ray Ward Fine Jewelers, Stephanie’s Boutique, Stranger than Fiction, The Ardmore Emporium, The Rage, The Stag, Threads, and Tol’s Jewelry.
The event raised $750 for the Parks and Recreation department, but the fundraising wasn’t the only positive that came from the event.
“We just wanted to bring people downtown shopping, and try to keep people local and show them the stores we have down on Main Street,” Stewart said.
Stewart, after handing out stockings and 30 Ardmore Parks and Recreation department Christmas ornaments, said she saw a lot of people supporting local businesses.
“A lot businesses were surprised with the amount of customers we brought in and some of the businesses that didn’t participate we’re like, ‘Man, I wish we would have done this,” Stewart said. “We saw a lot of stuff being bought today. People weren’t just looking, they were buying. It was really cool.”
Irene Logue, owner of Stranger than Fiction gave away bookmarks and free books during the Stocking Stroll. She said the event was a success and hopes the fresh faces she saw will return in the future as loyal customers.
“I had some people that haven’t been in here since I took over four years ago,” Irene Logue said. “It was worth it, Anytime we can do a fundraiser without costing us a lot of money it’s a great thing.”
Jimmy Gaston, owner of DaCapo Music also participated in the event, giving away guitar picks.
He said the Stocking Stroll was a nice boost to help bring in some new customers that otherwise might not have visited his store.
“We had a few sales, some little things,” Gaston said. “But I saw some people that have never been in here before... It’s something.”
Though the Christmas season is usually the bellcow that keeps small retailers like him afloat during the slower months, Gaston said this year’s sales are down about 30 percent.
Gaston said online retailers like Amazon have affected his business as more customers choose to shop online instead of taking advantage of local options. Some price tags at DaCapo Music show the Amazon price with the DaCapo price written beneath, and though his prices are competitive, this year he said it looks like Amazon is winning the fight.
Stewart said after the success of the Stocking Stroll and receiving the positive feedback from business owners, she hopes to turn Stocking Stroll into an annual Ardmore tradition. An event that could help revitalize the downtown area and continue to support local merchants.
“I feel like we can try and make this a tradition,’ Stewart said. “Hopefully we can do it next year and give away different stockings from year to year. Maybe next year we’ll give away a leopard stocking, something they can collect.”