Earl Reineman has been attending downtown Lawrence’s annual sidewalk sale ever since he was a freshman at Kansas University in 1974.
He remembers going to Weaver’s and Ernst & Son Hardware, but most of all, he remembers the crowded sidewalks filled with excited people and discounted merchandise.
“Really, not a lot has changed,” said Reineman, vice president at Weaver’s. “It’s still a great tradition for the community, and it still creates a lot of excitement.”
Jane Pennington, director of Downtown Lawrence Inc., said this year’s sidewalk sale would retain many of the traditions that began with the sale in the early 1960s. She said merchants would be open for business from dawn until dusk, various nonprofit organizations would be setting up information booths and there would undoubtedly be a musician or two lining Massachusetts Street.
“It’ll be pretty much the same tradition,” she said. “Why change something that works so well?”
The sale typically draws between 5,000 and 7,000 people. Pennington said the sale was always great for Lawrence businesses because it drew local and regional dollars to downtown Lawrence.
But with several businesses that have closed or relocated from Massachusetts Street, there may be some empty spaces on the sidewalk this year.
Arensberg Shoes, Maurice’s and the Palace, three downtown favorites, are no longer open for business on Massachusetts Street.
Because Maurice’s, which has moved to 3226 Iowa, can no longer participate in the annual sale, manager Khara Loeppke said it would be looking into having another kind of sale with neighboring retailers Famous Footwear and Old Navy.
“It used to be a big business day for us,” Loeppke said. “So we’ll have to try to find something to make up for that.”
Despite store closings and the inevitable July heat, sidewalk sale devotees say they are still excited for the yearly tradition.
“I always look forward to it just because it’s a fun day and I especially look forward to seeing a lot of people and faces that I may not have seen for a while,” Reineman said. “I always like watching people interact with each other and people running into old friends when they’re out on the sidewalk and catching up.”