ELKHART — It’s two months before Christmas, but Elkhart retailers started enticing customers on Thursday evening when they hosted the Right Around the Corner event. More than a dozen downtown businesses invited patrons to shop on Thursday evening in exchange for a 20 percent discount on merchandise.
Stephenson’s was celebrating its 81st anniversary. Owner and manager Danny Reynolds said they had already planned to hold an anniversary celebration this weekend when the “Right Around the Corner” event came up.
Reynolds was visiting some Stephenson’s customers recently who recalled the heyday of the 70s and 80s when Main Street was filled with retailers. He hopes that new businesses will continue to open in downtown Elkhart.
“We welcome the company, that’s for sure,” he said.
Eric Zell, owner of Elk River Upcycle, and Nanci Wirt, owner of n. wirt design, moved into their space on Main Street in August. Zell said they hoped Right Around the Cornerwould replicate the excitement of events like ArtWalk.
“It’s just a new way to get people downtown,” Wirt said.
Bethza, a professional make-up artist studio, opened in July. Co-owner Bethza Seminario and other local retailers want people to know that they don’t have to travel to Mishawaka or South Bend to go shopping. It was important to have this event before the holiday shopping season kicked off so people would know that they could go to downtown Elkhart to find gifts for their loved ones.
“They just want to show the community what’s here,” Seminario said.
ModCloset owner Doni Funkhouser was one of the main organizers of Right Around the Corner. Even though events like ArtWalk help local businesses, she and other organizers wanted an event that was solely focused on shopping.
They also wanted to hold the event on a weeknight so parking was easy to find and hold it early enough in the season that people weren’t rushed to find holiday presents. With the advent of businesses like Bethza and Elk River Upcycle, other established stores are also benefitting.
“The more businesses that start cropping up, the better it is,” Funkhouser said.
Downtown Elkhart Inc. presented “The Blues Brothers” for free at the Lerner Theatre. Jason Moreno, who was born the day the movie opened, and his friend, Jason Bryant, came dressed as the two main characters. Both said the movie is one of their favorites. People donated canned goods, which will be given to Church Community Services.