Businesses in downtown Urbana have scheduled special events on the second Saturday of each month in hopes of attracting more people.
These “Second Saturdays” include extended hours for shopping and dining, entertainment, food trucks, vendors and more.
“One of the reasons we have added ‘Second Saturdays’ is to get people back downtown shopping and promoting local,” said Let’s Eat Cake owner Tina Knotts. “Downtown events build community and camaraderie while supporting small locally-owned businesses. A win-win.”
People are more comfortable getting out now with the restrictions being lifted, she said.
They are “traveling more, enjoying outdoor events and close to home road trips,” said Knotts.
“We were steady through COVID, we found that people still wanted to celebrate special occasions,” said Knotts. “But the size of the orders was smaller.
“Post-COVID, we are back to normal,” she continued. “I think people are excited to get out now that all the mandates are lifted and party sizes are getting bigger.”
Knotts said that many of the downtown businesses have invited vendors and food trucks to set up outside of their storefronts to add extra interest.
For entertainment in the evening, the Wright Brothers 3 group will be playing at Legacy Park in the square.
She said her bakery theme will be lemon-flavored items.
“We will have lemon shakeups out front. We are going to feature extra lemon items and baked goods and lemon-type desserts.”
While some businesses struggled to keep their doors open during the pandemic, other businesses discovered new ideas to keep bringing in revenue.
Amy Forrest, owner of In Good Taste Market, opened her store in March 2021, a year after the pandemic quarantine. Forrest has been a caterer for 15 years and was affected by the pandemic on a high level.
“When the pandemic hit, we were basically shut down,” she said. “We lost most of our catering staff and we are trying to rebuild.”
Forrest said their business survived through her carry-out dinner services.
“They are definitely our number one seller,” she said.
Sara Kerns, owner of Guild Galleries, discussed why “Second Saturdays” are important for the community.
Kerns said after the pandemic: “Nothing was normal. We had to close, but we tried to get some extra things done here at the store. We muddled through and promoted through social media.
“Since we have been here for 46 years, we have seen a lot of businesses come and go. We have always felt that the more we have, the better,” said Kerns. “We have a very nice selection and nice places to eat.”
Reach Anna Gaertner at [email protected]