Downtown Evanston Hosts “InSidewalk Sale” to Promote Business

Parker Stava/The North West Daily

Commonwealth Racing Company. The store opened 17 days before the COVID-19 lockdown and took part in the downtown Evanston sidewalk sale this weekend.

Downtown Evanston businesses held the ‘InSidewalk Sale’ this weekend, featuring discounts and specials from 11 local vendors. Participating stores included Gearhead Outfitters, Ayla’s Originals, Accents Plus and more.

The sale, organized by downtown Evanston, ran from Friday to Sunday to help businesses clean up their stores. In previous years, the sale was held outdoors during the summer, but due to the cold weather this year, it was held indoors. At the event, companies offered deep discounts, offered a free gift with purchase, or offered to buy one, get one.

Business owners and employees said they hoped the sale would attract more customers, especially given recent challenges like the pandemic, supply chain issues and increased online shopping.

“I hope the sale attracts people who would otherwise just click through to a site to shop,” said Avis Behling, furniture store manager at Evanston Affordable Portables.

Behling understands the ease of shopping online, but as a self-proclaimed environmentalist, she doesn’t like the amount of waste it produces. She said Affordable Portables fights this by recycling everything they can.

Matt Abitbol, ​​the owner of Commonwealth Running Company, said his store was born into the pandemic, as it opened 17 days before the COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020. The cases of COVID-19 over the two past few years have resulted in inconsistent business, he mentioned.

“(Business) fluctuates with the pandemic,” Abitbol said. “It’s like two steps forward, one step back, but we’re getting there.”

Some business owners have also complained of supply chain issues, which the omicron variant has exacerbated. Inflation, which spiked to 7% in December 2021, has also caused many local stores to lose business.

Despite this, some companies may have had some success during the pandemic. Rebecca Johnson, director of Blick Art Materials, said the store has done well over the past year.

“People were so drawn to art during the pandemic,” Johnson said. “So we’re doing pretty well.”

The vaccination mandate that went into effect on January 10 added a slight complication to matters. Indoor restaurants, fitness centers and entertainment venues must now ask for proof of vaccination at store entrance.

For Evanston Games & Cafe, the vaccine mandate has not hindered business. Co-owner Drew Lipoff said he had only one bad experience with a customer regarding the vaccine mandate. Overall, he said the general consensus among buyers is that the vaccine mandate is “the right thing to do.”

“The community has been really nice to us,” Lipoff said. “People really don’t have a problem with (the vaccine mandate).”

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