December 2, 2020

Holiday Market Days This Weekend Are All About Shopping Local

By Anne Levin

Those cozy little chalets that popped up on Black Friday at locations around downtown Princeton are part of the municipality’s efforts to encourage patronage of local stores during the holiday season. Shopping local is key to the future of a district that has been suffering during the pandemic. The Winter Village, and special Holiday Market Days this weekend, are designed to get shoppers into the businesses and onto the streets, away from the big box stores.

A committee of representatives from the municipality, the Princeton Merchants Association, the Arts Council of Princeton, and Princeton University has been collaborating on the project. While several popular businesses have closed during the pandemic, including Brooks Brothers on Palmer Square, Kitchen Kapers on Hulfish Street, and Bon Appetit in the Princeton Shopping Center, 27 are participating in this weekend’s Holiday Market Days. That’s up from 18 last year.

“I felt really good about the amount of traffic I saw in town last weekend – not just people, but bags,” said Princeton Councilwoman Michelle Pirone Lambros, who is on the committee. “The retailers seem to be cautiously optimistic. Members of the public I’ve talked to are curious, and really excited about the coming weekend.”

Shoppers who get cards stamped at 15 or more of the participating businesses on Saturday and Sunday, December 5 and 6, can enter a drawing to win prizes. No purchase is necessary to enter. Prize drawings will take place next week. Each business has contributed a prize. Among them: a $200 gift card from Hamilton Jewelers, a $75 gift card from Witherspoon Grill, a $200 gift certificate from Barbour, a scarf from Highbar Boutique, a Lindt basket of chocolates, a wrap from Lace Silhouettes, and gifts from Lillipies, Toobydoo, 4 Elements Wellness, Cyndi Shattuck Photography, H1912 Jewelers, Kristine’s restaurant, and the grand prize, a “staycation” at the Nassau Inn.

Two of the four Winter Village chalets, which have been decorated by McCarter Theatre, are located in Hinds Plaza, one is in Palmer Square, and one is in front of the Princeton Garden Theatre. Sourced by the Arts Council of Princeton, artisan vendors in the chalets are selling ceramics, paintings, jewelry, and more. They are open Tuesdays to Sundays, 12 to 6 p.m., through Christmas Eve. Participating vendors will change every week.

“The retailers are saying it’s going well,” said Lambros. “They have limited capability, because they can only have 25 percent capacity indoors right now. Some of them are putting tables outside and holding sidewalk sales to help accommodate people safely. And there are specials for snacks and warm drinks to complement the ambience.”

While this year’s effort is especially crucial due to the pandemic, it is intended as one that will continue in the future. “Hopefully, in years to come, we can expand upon this idea, with more chalets,” said Lambros. “We are spread out this year because we’re being safe. I’m hopeful that the community will continue to come out and support the businesses. It’s about survival right now.”