Are First Fridays really helping the Goshen community?

By Sarah Noah

Squeezed tightly between a small salon and the fair-trade store Ten Thousand Villages, is a quaint little shop. Upon entering, there is an instant feeling of warmth and friendship. Two ladies behind the counter immediately bound forward with smiles on their faces and ask how they can help. The shop is filled with the delectable smells of roasting nuts, and just about every surface contains piles of chocolates in all different shapes and sizes. It is the dream store of every child; a place where candy and sweets are unlimited. There are candy hearts, minty chocolates, caramels and a huge variety of brightly colored jellybeans lining the walls.

Despite all the amazing and delicious products found here in The Nut Shoppe, there is one thing wrong: there are no other customers.

First Fridays was a program brought to the Goshen community in order to stimulate some local business for places like The Nut Shoppe, and give the Goshen community a taste of what some of these local businesses have to offer. For just a small fee, many local businesses get advertisement through both the First Friday’s Web site as well as through pamphlets and posters placed around the Goshen Community. A planning committee, under the leadership of Grace Hunsberger, prepares special concerts, activities and events designed to draw members of the local community into the downtown area for an evening of fun and shopping. While this seems like an excellent opportunity for local businesses to grow, there are mixed feelings amongst shop owners as to whether or not First Fridays really helps all local businesses.

Several of the smaller businesses find First Fridays beneficial because they are being noticed by more community members. For The Nut Shoppe, First Fridays has been a great way to get more customers than they’ve ever had before. Danae Hochstedler, manager of The Nut Shoppe, explained, “It’s sort of funny. We get a lot of new customers in here during First Fridays, and many of them think we’re a newer store because they’ve never heard of us before. This is always surprising since we’ve been in downtown Goshen for twenty-seven years now.” On the other hand, Brad Weirich at Better World Books, a newer business in Goshen, finds First Fridays beneficial because he doesn’t have to worry so much about advertising. “It’s great. As a newer store we don’t always have funds for advertising, but with First Fridays we’re able to advertise to more people than we would have been able to on our own. First Fridays helps us to introduce our store to the community in a fun and exciting way.” Therefore, First Fridays can be beneficial to stores that have been in Goshen for years, as well as stores that are just starting up and trying to make it in this relatively small community of about 30,000.

Even though over 60 businesses and organizations participate in First Friday’s, there are some local businesses that do not benefit from First Friday activities or choose not to partake in them for various reasons. The manager of L & M Hair Salon, Lisa Lehman, claims that it does not necessarily benefit her business. She states “First Fridays is a night on the town. If I were looking for a good evening out, I wouldn’t stop to get a hair cut.” The owner of Snyder’s Men’s Apparel, who wished to remain nameless, had many of the same things to say: “I see First Fridays as a date night. Do you really think men would want to stop in to an apparel shop when they’re on a date?” He continued to explain that the shop does earn some business from First Fridays when men come into the shop earlier in the week to buy outfits for their Friday night dates. He also stated “I see many benefits to First Fridays.  Unfortunately it doesn’t help my shop like it does some others in the area. That doesn’t mean I don’t help out with First Friday activities every once in a while. I can support the program, send aid and even sponsor events in order to advertise my store.” He emphasized the fact that even though a company may not participate directly in First Fridays, the event can be beneficial in helping a company becoming more involved in the community and allow for further advertising opportunities for these businesses.

While some businesses benefit more from First Fridays than others, many local businesses, even those that don’t participate, still find many benefits to the First Fridays program. Business in Goshen is starting to pick up, thanks to the First Friday activities, and hopefully it will continue to grow as more community members make their way downtown one Friday a month. For more information on upcoming events visit the First Fridays website at <http://www.cityonthego.org/first_fridays>.

Upcoming Events:

February 5th

  • Free Jujitsu workshop -5:30pm (211 S. Main St.)
  • Free Films (Goshen Theater – 216 South Main St.)
    • G-Force -6:30 pm
    • Breakfast at Tiffany’s -9:00pm
Written by Alysha Landis

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