Local businesses are kicking off the start of the month with First Friday, an event intended to bring the community and local businesses together for a few hours on the first Friday of every month.
Described on the First Friday Plattsburgh website, “First Friday is a community event to showcase the art, music, food, and vibrancy of our downtown businesses. This family-friendly event is run year-round.”
All participating businesses will be open 5 p.m. until 8 p.m., which is extended hours for most.
First Friday is a nationwide event with over thirty chapters and dozens of more participating cities. Attending the Rochester First Friday for years, Megan Charland was surprised to move back home to Plattsburgh and find no downtown association, much less any type of community event.
Charland, who also does the art for the First Friday posters, founded The Link Arts Center on Court Street in downtown Plattsburgh in October 2020 with her sister Sara. The center provides for profit and the occasional free art classes for all ages.
They also provide art-based services, like business card making, button pressing and workshops on various adobe software. All intended to help owners further develop their businesses.
Not all residents have accessibility to the varying midday hours of Plattsburgh’s downtown businesses. Charland said many people are coming downtown on weekend evenings to go to dinner and are walking to these restaurants and passing all the closed storefronts. On First Friday, a new crowd who may not normally get into these businesses have an opportunity to.
A map of participating venues can be found at The Link Arts Center, where they will be hosting pumpkin origami on the upcoming First Friday Oct. 1.
The assistant manager of Corner Stone Bookshop, Windsor Burkland, attributes a revitalization of downtown to the monthly First Friday event.
“Once COVID began, downtown was dead for a very long time. I was working sporadically at that time and I know it was hard for all of our small businesses,” Burkland said.
She said the event brings good foot traffic that has been increasing every month since the event began in May. She’s hoping to see even more now that students are back on campus, bringing up that Corner Stone is a great place for students to find resources for classes or personal interests.
Corner Stone will be doing a $5 fiction sale from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m., accompanied by live music from local musician and storyteller Stan Ransom.
Old Soul, who will be celebrating their one year anniversary this week, sells refurbished furniture and handmade goods from over 50 local artisans. Owner Kt Teaney said that the focus of her business is to be community based, and First Friday is an opportunity to connect with the community directly.
“First Friday allows small businesses to work as a unit to bring in new customers and more business. We offer more when we can collaborate together,” Teaney said.
Old Soul will be having one of their artisans Ryelyn McKay, owner of Ryelyn by Design, set up outside the shop selling her jewelry. Giving an artist a physical location provides more direct sales, and the potential to form a relationship with returning clients.
Cara Mastic is the manager of DressCode, a consignment shop on the corner of City Hall Pl. and Bridge Street. She was approached by Charland when the event first began in May of 2021. She said the event has been gradually getting busier and she is seeing new faces in the store every month. Mastic also points out that “it’s a great event for students, as it doesn’t take an entire day out of their schedule of classes and homework.”
DressCode will be having psychic readings by Chris Byrne from 4:30 p.m. until 7 p.m. Slots can be reserved on the DressCode facebook page, or by walk in.
Twelve other businesses are currently participating in First Friday, and more are encouraged to join. A yearly subscription fee of $100 is required to be a First Friday venue. A full list of participating venues can be found at firstfridayplattsburgh.com.
At its foundation, First Friday exists to support culture, art, food service and any other small businesses in a city. It’s a showcase of what a town has to offer and that message is stronger when the businesses work together.
“People have lived here for their whole life and have never been to some of these businesses. This is a fun way to entice people to be a part of their community, not an outsider,” Charland said.
Teaney believes Plattsburgh is in the middle of a “huge growth period for the community.” Her business, like a handful of others, are new to downtown. There is also an influx of women-owned and managed businesses in town. Supporting these businesses during First Friday will not only stimulate the local economy, but help further develop a culture and art rich community.