On the first Friday of every month, stores in downtown Opelika extend their store hours to participate in First Fridays, which brings live music, drinks, dining and shopping on one historic street.
Image courtesy of Opelika Main Street
The next First Fridays will be on Friday, Oct. 2.
Pam Powers-Smith is the director of Opelika Main Street, which is a membership-driven non-profit organization. According to Powers-Smith, many of the stores extend their hours until 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. on First Fridays. This gives customers who work during normal business hours a chance to shop at stores that would normally be closed during these customers’ free time. The stores that participate in First Fridays are Studio 3:19, Taylor Made Designs, Fringe, Heritage Gifts, The Gallery on Railroad, Southern Crossing and Coveted Closet.
“Our outdoor musicians set up around 6 p.m., so there’s live music playing on all the street corners,” said Powers-Smith. “Some people come just to grab a drink and walk around and shop first and then go eat dinner. Then, you have those that come eat dinner early, especially people with small children, will eat dinner at 5:30 p.m. or 6 p.m., and then shop after they get done.”
The laid-back approach to this event draws many people downtown for First Fridays.
“There are typically just a lot of people walking around, milling about, which kind of creates a really nice, fun atmosphere,” said Powers-Smith. “Now that we have the new brewery and distillery that are across the tracks, I think that creates a lot of fun pedestrian traffic too.”
First Fridays is convenient for Opelika residents and visitors with busy schedules, as tickets are not required and people can decide to attend on a whim.
“It’s not something you have to plan weeks in advance if you’re going to attend,” said Powers-Smith. “You can decide at 5 p.m. once you finish work at the end of the day if you’re going to come out or not. It’s not a big festival. It’s not something you have to have to have a ticket for. It really kind of has a relaxed atmosphere.”
Leah Ward, sales lead at Coveted Closet, is fond of First Fridays.
“I personally love First Friday because it is so lively,” said Ward. “There is live music, stores are busy, and restaurants are even busier than they usually are. The customers are happier because First Friday is an event they look forward to every month.”
First Fridays has helped business for Coveted Closet.
“This event has significantly increased awareness of our store, because First Friday brings a diverse crowd to downtown Opelika,” said Ward. “In turn, this has brought more business to Coveted Closet. We remain significantly busier on First Friday, especially during the later hours. I would say that we have increased sales and knowledge of Coveted Closet because of recognition brought on by First Friday.”
First Fridays Information
For more information on First Fridays, visit http://www.facebook.com/FirstFridaysOpelika
This story was originally published in The Corner News on September 29, 2015. The story was written for an assignment for my PRCM4020 Style and Design in Public Relations Messages course at Auburn University in fall 2015.