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Oregon’s historic Main Streets pivot for the holidays

November 25, 2020

Written by Sheri Stuart, Oregon Main Street Coordinator

Downtown Roseburg

Downtown McMinnville

While the holiday season may look a little different this year, our Oregon Main Street communities are finding ways to celebrate and create lasting memories while keeping your health and well-being at the forefront of their plans. Many community holiday traditions have been paused or reinvented, while others worked on created new activities. Some of the things happening across our broad Main Street Network include:

  • Lakeview Community Partnership’s Small Business Saturday activities include ornaments hidden throughout downtown businesses. If you find the ornament, you receive a big bucket of popcorn from the Alger Theater plus extra goodies provided by businesses. In addition, businesses are hosting a home-based business at their location to give them more visibility and consumers more opportunities.
  • Reedsport Main Street worked with volunteers to decorate planters with holly and greens to create a more inviting presence and will move their traditional tree lighting as a virtual event that will be livestreamed on FaceBook (@reedsportmainstreet).
  • La Grande Main Street received a small grant from a local business to help boost holiday decorations, especially re-lighting the Christmas tree.
  • Klamath Falls Downtown Association is helping keep the Snowflake Festival alive after the community needed to cancel the much beloved parade. They encouraged business owners to create their own individual events which they are marketing over a two-week period and also supporting a window decorating contest to spread a little holiday cheer.
  • Historic Willamette is continuing a decorated wreath contest to spread camaraderie among businesses and have also received approval to continue their holiday bazaar by spreading it out over multiple evenings rather than one and hosting as an outdoor vs indoor event.
  • McMinnville Downtown Association is hosting a 12 Weeks of Christmas campaign that features weekly cash give-aways, a children’s scavenger hunt, gift with purchase offered by select retail participants, a men’s shopping night will be sponsored in mid-December, and a holiday window display contest will be launched Thanksgiving weekend. 
  • Gold Beach Main Street is hosting a community lighting competition and will also be doing a drive-by Santa activity to ensure appropriate social distancing while sharing good will.
  • Hillsboro Downtown Partnership is coordinating Plaid Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Discover Downtown Sunday activities to support local, independent businesses. They also adapted their Holly Days Celebration as a virtual Treelighting and Entertainment event coupled with downtown shopping opportunities.

Regardless of whether a business is located in one of our Main Street districts, your continued support is essential. Last week, Gov. Kate Brown announced the launch of the “Give the Gift of Oregon” campaign, part of a comprehensive effort to support local businesses statewide in challenging times. “Oregon’s businesses are the backbone of our communities and our economy, and I am encouraging all Oregonians to shop locally this holiday season,” Brown said. “Strengthening our economy starts here at home. Here’s a link to Travel Oregon’s website GivetheGiftofOregon . Featured businesses and gift ideas are featured on its website. The campaign also highlights the Oregon Wine Board’s The Giving Season efforts, as well as the Built Oregon Marketplace, an online platform that provides consumers with an opportunity to discover products from Oregon makers.

On a personal note, I am so grateful for all the efforts of our local main street organizations, local governments, and citizens who rallied to assist local businesses either by connecting businesses with resources and information, adapting marketing and events, relaxing rules and providing financial support, or patronizing businesses through curbside pick-ups, go-fund me campaigns, online shopping, or in-store visits when allowed. To everyone who stepped up to support businesses, you made a difference. While there have been a few downtown business closures, these have been fewer than anticipated. Each closure is a heartbreak, but I am grateful for those who have been able to forge forward. And, many of our districts are reporting new businesses opening. These folks give me hope.

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