For the first time in 48 years, the annual Sidewalk Sale in Logan has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 60 retailers from about 100 South to 200 North downtown typically put out tables and displays and discount merchandise during the second week of July as a way to clear shelves and make room for the coming holiday season.
Though the majority of the bargain shopping event takes place outside, Logan Downtown Alliance’s Gary Saxton said it doesn’t fit the health department’s safe “special event” criteria of counting and tracking participants.
“At the Sidewalk Sale, we don’t have an official entry door, no way we can monitor how many people are attending because you have to meet those maximum numbers, which are fairly large,” Saxton said, “but we just don’t have a means of counting the number of people participating as patrons.”
Many business owners in the downtown area expressed disappointment at the decision though they support it.
“We’re certainly interested in public health and everyone’s safety, and so I guess you could say we’re supportive of whatever decisions made by those that feel that’s the route to go,” said Gene Needham of S.E. Needham Jewelers.
Many businesses, such as Needham’s, are still promoting sales, though “in this case, air-conditioned, not on the sidewalk.” Coppin’s Hallmark is similarly holding its annual ornament clearance sale, as well as premiering the upcoming season’s collection indoors.
Businesses on Center Street were especially looking forward to the event this year.
“Being on Center Street, there’s not quite as much activity for us as there is on Main Street, but we try to bring people down Center Street as well,” said Mark Anderson, co-owner of Anderson Seed and Garden.
“We were hoping and excited this year about the Center Street redevelopment project to see how it would, hopefully, bring more people down Center Street during the Sidewalk Sale, but we won’t get to test out that theory this year.”
Anderson added his business hasn’t been slowed down by the pandemic at all. While Needham’s spring engagement season was interrupted and revenue lost, it’s been the opposite for Anderson.
“This spring, I would probably estimate that 30% of our customers were brand new, never-gardened-before first-timers,” he said. “And for us, that’s exciting because we’ve got these new people who are excited about gardening, want to be outside, want to stick their fingers in the dirt.”
Kristan Fjeldsted, co-owner of The Sportsman, said it was a similar experience for them. While the clothing and retail side of the local sporting goods store have slowed down, the service side has been busier than ever. They’ve had to hire two new bike mechanics and are thinking of bringing on a third.
“Service is helping people survive, if they have a service in their business that they can’t get online,” she said. “You can’t get a bike repaired online, you have to bring them in.”
Fjeldsted added that the July event is a bit premature in the season to end summer sales, but like Anderson, they’re happy to participate in community events to bring people downtown.
“We’re just really grateful for the community support and hope it continues,” Fjeldsted said, “and just hope that this all can come to an end and that we can go back to the Sidewalk Sales.”