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Tuesday, Jul 28, 2015
Local News

Merchants say December events attracted people to downtown.


SEBRING - Casey Wohl and Lora Todd, who are organizing special events for downtown Sebring, undoubtedly are hoping that more people like Becky Ballard get the word of what's going on.

Responding to a Facebook question of whether an expanded number of events last month drew more people downtown, Ballard wrote, "Yes they did. We enjoyed the stores being open and all the friendly people from friends to new people you meet. The music when they had it was, also."

The events also helped draw Jackie Welch, who said she's an infrequent downtown visitor.

"I'd say yes," she commented on Facebook. "Normally I really don't go downtown because there isn't really much there that I do even though I have kids."

The four weeks of Christmas season events was one of four events the Sebring City Council agreed earlier this year to help efforts to revitalize downtown.

The events included Saturday with Santa, Cookiefest, Small Business Saturday, a holiday bazaar, a scavenger hunt and an outdoor movie.

Wohl, who owns Gray Dog Communications and does marketing for the Community Redevelopment Agency, said it's hard to quantify how many people attended each event, but said at least 250 kids were at Cookiefest and 65 attended the outdoor movie.

Saturdays with Santa were said to have been crowded, she said.

Overall, she said, "I think everything exceeded our expectations."

Lora Todd, who owns Plan B Promotions and Dogtown USA, said she believes most people liked the events.

"I don't recall getting any negative feedback," she said.

Ronald Thomas, owner of Capt. Ron's Mercantile, said he believes the events attracted more people to downtown. The scavenger hunt, an event in which people sought answers to questions by going to businesses, impacted his store the most, he said.

At the outset, Thomas said, many people came in and asked the question before leaving without buying anything.

"Then I got smart," he said. Thomas told people they had to go to the back of the store to get the answer. That way people saw what his store carries and some bought items, he said.

Todd said she did well at Dogtown USA with more customers who bought dog toys and treats.

Linda Tucker, who owns a book store downtown, said she had no doubt the events drew in more people.

"Anything that draws in people is good," she said.

Brittany Chess, who owns a salon, said she feels Wohl and Todd are doing good jobs. She saw increased foot traffic, she said.

Vicki Jarvis, owner of Frames and Images, said that while she operates a destination business, the additional foot traffic brought in more people who may buy items from her in the future.

Heartland Real Estate located in downtown Sebring because of the efforts to bring such events there, said Will Lovett, who works there.

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