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Column: Downtown Council suggests making the Waterfront part of your holiday tradition

Kristi Stokes is president of the Greater Downtown Council.

There's a sense of pride a shopper feels in supporting a locally-owned independent business.

Maybe it's the fact that you know a significant amount of your money will be reinvested back into goods and services in our community.

Or perhaps it's the fact that you are supporting those who provide outstanding customer service because their employees take time to get to know their customers.

Or maybe it's just the fact that you are looking for something unique and our local businesses are the thread that helps make the fabric of our community.

No matter what prompts you to shop local, we thank you for supporting our businesses in Duluth's Downtown Waterfront District.

A great example of community support was quite visible on the street and at the registers during Small Business Saturday last week. Many of our retailers reported an outstanding day of sales, with most of them indicating stronger sales than last year. Some of our newer businesses even indicated it was their best day all year.

Between the open house celebrations and the special promotions, there was a true sense of community spirit throughout our central business district.

Several national studies have shown that when you buy local, a significant amount of your investment goes back into the community to make purchases from other local businesses. In addition, our one-of-a-kind businesses keep our community unique -- they offer a sense of place.

And, adding to the mix this year are 12 new retail businesses as part of the Greater Downtown Council's Pop-Up Downtown program. These businesses are filling vacant storefronts for the holiday season and we hope that some of them will consider longer-term leases after they get the chance to test our market.

Through the generosity of our property owners, these pop-ups are setting up shop rent-free for two months. It brings more excitement and energy to the core of our community and activates storefronts that were previously dark.

So, as we all think about traditions during this holiday season, we hope that Duluth's Downtown Waterfront plays a role in helping you celebrate a tradition as well as making new memories this Christmas.

Whether it's visiting your favorite store or finding a new one, enjoying dinner and a show or strolling through Bentleyville, there is a sense of place like no other.

Merry Christmas from your friends at Duluth's Downtown Waterfront District!

Kristi Stokes is the president of the Greater Downtown Council in Duluth. Contact her at 727-8549 or by email at