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Column: First Fridays - a new campaign to support our local businesses

Kristi Stokes

Spring is a time to think about new beginnings, a fresh start. That’s why we’re kicking off a new program to encourage individuals to support our local businesses in Duluth’s Downtown Waterfront District.

It’s no secret that we all endured a long and challenging winter. That also means retail sales didn’t break any records here, either. With frequent school and business closings amidst piles of snow and bitter temperatures, it became a chore for many of us just to keep up with what Mother Nature threw our way.

But, alas, it’s time to celebrate the true beginning of a new season and our local businesses are teaming up to help make it easy and fun. We’re pleased kick off “First Fridays” on May 2. It’s very similar to Small Business Saturday, which has gained tremendous traction across the country as a way to kick off the holiday shopping season. The goal is to support our local businesses, especially since they do so much to support our community. And, so, on the First Friday of every month, our businesses will be doing something special to showcase their unique offerings. Whether they provide special discounts, demonstrations or extended hours for shopping, our local businesses will be uniting behind the common thread of encouraging people to buy local.

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. These business owners are also the same individuals who donate items regularly to local fundraisers and special events. They are also known for their outstanding customer service; they truly take time to get to know their customer and how they can further improve their experience. Finally, our one-of-a-kind businesses keep our community unique — they offer a sense of place.

So, as we kick off our “First Fridays” on May 2, please make sure to stop in at any of our local businesses and show your support. Together, we can build a stronger community.

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

Kristi Stokes

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