Annual Downtown Lawrence Sidewalk Sale returns amid critical time for local businesses

photo by: Richard Gwin

Shoppers check out the deals at Sunflower Outdoor and Bike Shop, 804 Massachusetts St., during the Downtown Lawrence Sidewalk Sale, Thursday, July 16, 2015.

The Downtown Lawrence Sidewalk Sale is staging its comeback next week, and downtown leaders say the staple summer event carries more importance this year than ever.

The decadeslong tradition was canceled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, and Downtown Lawrence Inc. Executive Director Sally Zogry said that during the long economic recovery, supporting local businesses is critical if the community wants them to survive.

“They’ve been hanging on,” Zogry said. “They’ve had to adapt and they’ve done a good job of that, I think. This event is a way for people in the community and outside of our community to support our local business owners.”

Zogry added that residents can find some deals in the process, and that no matter the size of the purchase, every dollar counts. She said those wishing to support shops and restaurants downtown can also buy gift cards.

The 61st annual sale will take place on Thursday, Sept. 9, and will run from sunup to sundown as in previous years. Expect to see the usual sidewalk booths and sales racks with clothes, shoes, art, jewelry, sports and outdoor gear, accessories, games and other merchandise, as well as other activities, according to a news release.

“We are excited to welcome people down,” Zogry said.

The sale usually brings thousands of shoppers to downtown, and Zogry said attendees are encouraged to wear masks because it will be challenging to maintain social distance. Some shops also require masks, and Zogry urged people to be respectful of rules and one another. Hand sanitizer stations are located on every block, and other facilities such as portable toilets and cooling stations will also be available.

As the Journal-World reported earlier this summer, the Downtown Lawrence Inc. board decided to move the sale from July to September this year to avoid the intense heat of midsummer and to allow retailers to catch up on their inventory following supply-chain issues related to the pandemic.

Here’s some more information from Downtown Lawrence Inc. about parking, giveaways and other activities:

Parking: In addition to on-street parking, parking is available in the city parking garages located at Ninth and New Hampshire streets and in the 700 block of Vermont Street. The garages have some free spaces, and 10-hour spaces are available for $1. There is also two-hour free parking in the surface parking lots on Vermont and New Hampshire streets.

Civic engagement spot: Lawrence City Commission candidates and the Lawrence-Douglas County League of Women Voters will be present at the U.S. Bank plaza at Ninth and Massachusetts streets. Zogry said candidates or their campaign staff would be stopping in throughout the day to chat with people about campaigns, and that other local nonprofits would also be set up in the plaza and other locations downtown.

Cooling stations: Attendees can step into the air conditioning to cool off at the Watkins Museum at 11th and Massachusetts streets and at First State Bank & Trust at Sixth and Vermont streets.

Portable toilets: Attendees can use portable toilets that will be located in various locations throughout downtown. That includes in the breezeway immediately south of Eccentricity in the 700 block of Massachusetts Street, in the breezeway immediately north of the Antique Mall in the 800 block of Massachusetts Street, and on the southwest corner of 10th and Massachusetts streets. Four other portable toilets are located in the following city parking lots: Lot 2 in the 700 block of New Hampshire Street; Lot 4 in the 800 block of New Hampshire Street; Lot 14 at the corner of Eighth and Vermont streets; and Lot 3 in the 800 block of Vermont Street.

Giveaways and information: Attendees can stop by the sidewalk sale headquarters inside the Lawrence Visitors Center, 812 Massachusetts St., to enter a gift card giveaway, pick up a sidewalk sale map with sale information and special offers, and get a complimentary reusable shopping bag courtesy of Happy Shirt Printing/River Rat Skate Shop and Downtown Lawrence Inc. DLI will be giving away $1,500 in Downtown Lawrence gift cards in honor of the return of the sale, and attendees can enter to win by showing $50 worth of receipts or by filling out a sidewalk sale survey.

Mobile app: Attendees can download the Downtown Lawrence mobile app to get news on sidewalk sale specials from participating retailers and flash deals. To download and start using the app, text DLI to 74574.

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