Orleans Chamber To Host ‘First Fridays’

by Ryan Bray
Judy Lindahl, executive director of the Orleans Chamber of Commerce, holds up a sign promoting “First Fridays” during a select board meeting on March 13.  RYAN  BRAY PHOTO Judy Lindahl, executive director of the Orleans Chamber of Commerce, holds up a sign promoting “First Fridays” during a select board meeting on March 13. RYAN BRAY PHOTO

ORLEANS – “It’s in Orleans.”

The phrase has become a mantra of sorts for the Orleans Chamber of Commerce, a reminder to people that they don’t have to venture out of town to shop or have a good time. With it, the chamber has been working on different programs and initiatives to help entice people to shop local and check out everything the town’s businesses have to offer.

In December, the chamber held its first annual Holiday Stroll, where on one night ahead of the Christmas holiday retailers, restaurants and other local businesses kept their doors open later into the evening to make themselves more available to shoppers who might not have the time to stop by during the day.

“Overall it was great for businesses,” said Judy Lindhal, the chamber’s executive director. “We had a lot of comments from customers saying they had never walked into specific stores before, they were just driving by and it was never a convenient time. This gave everybody an opportunity to explore all the shops on Main Street and 6A and down in East Orleans. I went to several, and it was amazing to see the amount of foot traffic.”

Now the chamber and local businesses are looking to build upon the stroll’s success, this time during the summer season. The chamber will launch a new initiative, “First Fridays,” from June to October. As with the winter stroll, more than 40 local businesses, including both chambers and non-chamber members, will open their doors until 8 p.m. on the first Friday of each month.

“Each individual retailer, gallery and store would do their own specials, their own event for that night,” Lindahl said.

“I think that’s another great thing that will happen with First Fridays,” said Molly Avellar, co-owner of Adorn on East Main Street. “Maybe people will go to different locations every month, different areas of town. Because Orleans is spread out.”

Avellar is helping coordinate First Fridays alongside Emily Richardson, owner of Homegrown Boutique on Main Street. The two worked together to organize the Holiday Stroll, which Avellar said generated a lot of buzz and interest within the local business community.

“The businesses that are really excited about First Fridays have seen the success of the Holiday Stroll. They’re like ‘We want more of this,’” she said.

The summer months give businesses a lot more flexibility to plan and organize different events, Avellar said. That could include gallery openings and options for outdoor drinking and dining. At Adorn, there will be an artist pop up on the business’ patio.

“I think it opens up to more people coming because of the weather, and it will be light out later. It’ll just be a fun pop around Orleans,” she said.

And while the goal of First Fridays is to help support and better promote Orleans’ local businesses, Avellar said the event is about more than shopping. It’s also about community and making Orleans a destination for residents and visitors alike.

“It’s really everyone working together to create a good event,” she said.

Email Ryan Bray at ryan@capecodchronicle.com