Main Street Delaware: 'Holiday Shop Hop' encourages downtown shopping, but with COVID-19 in mind

Paul Comstock
ThisWeek

Main Street Delaware doesn't plan to allow the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic to ruin Christmas in downtown Delaware. 

Social distancing and mask requirements will be in place, along with one creative approach to generate some excitement about holiday bargains. 

Main Street Delaware logo

Starting at 3 p.m. Dec. 6, on Main Street Delaware's Facebook page, a "Holiday Shop Hop" broadcast will be aired, with each participating merchant showing a 15-minute video.

Each video is designed to include a special bargain for those who call to reserve purchase of an item while the video is playing – similar to the QVC shopping channel. 

"The Shop Hop was created to provide an activity to encourage folks to shop downtown Delaware, and knowing that a lot of people don't feel comfortable to shop in person, this seemed like a good alternative," said Main Street Delaware director Susie Bibler.

In terms of pandemic precautions, all downtown holiday shopping events have been reviewed by the Delaware General Health District and city government, she said.

Terri-Lynne Smiles, a Main Street Delaware board member and owner of the Greater Gouda, 12 N. Sandusky St., conceived the Holiday Shop Hop concept.

"The idea is that a lot of people are staying home, understandably so. We don't want Amazon to be their only option," Smiles said.

"They can still shop local, get some good deals and have fun in the process. We're doing it sort of QVC style, (with an) exciting 15 minutes of specials. You also get to see other items that the people in the shop might have in that 15-minute clip," she said.

Those clips will be recorded in advance, in the interests of social distancing, she said.

"For the first time out of the box doing something like this, (social distancing) seemed the reasonable place to go," she said.

Delaware shoppers are supporting local businesses as the pandemic continues, Smiles said. 

"I can tell you this last Saturday (Nov. 28), there were a lot of people downtown," she said.

What the Tux, 1 N Sandusky St. B, also will participate in the remote Shop Hop.

Owner Marti Mullen said the absence of high school proms in the spring had an impact on the business, which rents tuxedos and has some clothing items for sale. 

One activity the pandemic doesn't seem to have affected is nuptials, she said.

"We've been really busy with weddings this year," Mullen said.

The pandemic has been a divisive topic nationwide, and Smiles said the downtown has had some problems with mask compliance.

"We are strongly urging our customers to shop online with us. We have pretty much everything in the shop, as well as over 70 gift items online. We're really kind of pushing for them to do that," she said.

Photos with Santa will return to the downtown this year, Bibler said.

The photos will be shot at Main Street Delaware’s new Welcome Center, 20 E. William St., on Dec. 11, 12, 18 and 19. Hours will be 6 to 8 p.m. Fridays and 1 to 3 p.m. Saturdays.

"We are encouraging everyone to wear masks. Only one family at a time will be permitted to be inside with Santa," Bibler said. "Little ones won’t be sitting on Santa’s lap this year, but they will be able to share their wish lists and pose for photographs with their favorite jolly old elf."

Also underway downtown until Dec. 24 is a Dash for Dasher scavenger hunt. Participants will explore downtown following Santa’s clues to find his lost reindeer.

Go to mainstreetdelaware.com/event/home-for-the-holidays to reserve a photo time with Santa and for details on the Main Street Delaware shopping program.

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