Downtown Open Late on Third Thursdays

55By Terry Rogers

Milford’s Downtown merchants are planning many specials as part of the new Third Thursday event that will begin on Thursday, May 19. Starting on that date, and planned for the third Thursday of each month, downtown merchants will remain open until 7pm to encourage shoppers to frequent local merchants downtown. The idea was presented as part of the Rivertown Rebirth Plan created by Arnette Muldrow & Associates and adopted by the City several months ago.

“Business owners participating in the Downtown Milford Entrepreneur Network wanted to work together to increase foot traffic downtown,” said Noa Kornbluh who is working with Downtown Milford Inc. to encourage participation in the event. “One suggestion was an extended hours campaign. We want people to come out to enjoy the downtown and shop local. Often downtown shops are closed as people get off work. By offering extended hours, businesses will benefit from the increased foot traffic and sales.”

One of the activities being offered downtown on Third Thursdays is stamp cards with 15 business logos. Shoppers who visit five or more businesses listed on the card and get the logo stamped are entered into a raffle to win a prize from downtown merchants. Stamp cards are available at downtown businesses and completed cards can be returned to participating merchants.

Ms. Kornbluh says that almost all downtown Milford businesses are participating, including Blooming Boutique, Fur-Baby Boutique & Doggie Daycare, The Music School of Delaware, Dolce, Sugar Bee Boutique, Petite Sweets, Irish Rose, Milford Antiques and Friends, Milford Chronicle, Gallery 37, Live Cheap & Make Art Studios, Mispillion Art League, Bikes, Etc., Milford Live and Josephine Keir Ltd. At Home. Participating businesses are hosting their own events on Third Thursday to encourage shoppers to visit.

“I will be raffling off a print,” said Rosemary Connelly of Live Cheap, Make Art Studios. “Mimi Galligan will be here with her beautiful ceramics pieces and Bob’s photography as well as my paintings and prints will be available. To be eligible to win the painting, you must visit the studio between 5 and 7pm, write your name and phone number on a card and drop it in the basket. Pretty basic stuff!” Mrs. Connelly’s husband, Bob Connelly, passed away in December and she will be displaying many of his photographic works of art as well as offering them for sale.

Mispillion Art League plans to offer a special event for every Third Thursday. Although the campaign will only be held once each month initially, Ms. Kornbluh says that the goal is to move toward late hours every Thursday of the month in year two if the Third Thursday events are a success. In year three, merchants will make a decision of whether to continue the late nights every Thursday or open during other times, including Saturday evening and Sundays.

According to Ben Muldrow, co-owner of Arnette Muldrow & Associates, many downtown areas throughout the country have found success by adding one evening of extended hours per month initially. The majority of those towns have increased the number of nights downtown businesses are open, further indicating how beneficial an extended hour campaign can be for downtown areas.

In an effort to encourage people to visit downtown on Third Thursdays, the City of Milford will open their customer service office, housed in the former PNC Bank building, until 7pm on those evenings. This will allow citizens to pay their city-related bills and find out more about City services.

“The Rivertown Rebirth plan and continuance of revitalization efforts downtown cannot happen without the merchants commitment and investment. It has been encouraging to see these businesses take it upon themselves to meet on a regular basis to discuss how their investments can improve this unique area, which includes upscale boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, dance studios and recreational opportunities all within a few blocks,” said Mayor Bryan Shupe. “As a City we are committed to promoting the success of downtown and are working with several partners as we encourage more private investment into commercial and residential properties.”

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