More shoppers frequent downtown

Chamber-led effort enhanced downtown
Dec. 31, 2012 @ 07:00 AM

Downtown Thomasville wrapped up this year's holiday shopping season with Main Street businesses reporting a pretty merry Christmas.
Increased foot traffic, the addition of Southern Sisters Restaurant and a focused effort on promoting downtown resulted in businesses like Monkeez Brew and Maggie's D Cottage experiencing a better than expected December.
"We were very pleased," said Stephen Swaney, who owns Monkeez Brew, 32 E. Main St., with his daughter Mindi. "Business was good. It's a little slow the week after Christmas, but leading up to Christmas, business was very good."
An uptick in downtown business didn't happen by mistake. Swaney said Southern Sisters restaurant, which opened across the railroad tracks earlier this year, has attracted more people to the downtown area. Summer events like the Cruise-In and  PACE Park Amphitheater draw visitors from across the Piedmont and puts the Chair City as a viable source of family entertainment. 
"People are trying to promote downtown a little more," Swaney said. "Everybody has done a good job, but we still have a long way to go. It is growing and we're glad to be a part of it. The last three of four weekends, we've been packed out. Its been really great."
Mindi Swaney said Monkeez Brew tailors its menu to the holidays with seasonal treats and drinks that capture the Christmas spirit. Monkeez Brew featured live entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights where musicians often played Christmas tunes.
Working with other businesses for the betterment of downtown as a whole also has paid dividends.
"With other groups and different people getting things started, it really helps us out," said Mindi Swaney. "We go back and forth. We'll send people there and they'll send people here. It's starting to pick up."
Gloria Binkley opened Maggie's D Cottage in November and worried about her first holiday season leading into December. Her business sells hand-crafted items such as wooden toys and pottery, much of which is made locally.
"I was grateful for the business," said Binkley. "I was kind of concerned about it but it took off great. I couldn't believe it. November was kind of slow but in December we did really good."
Maggie's D shares 26 E. Main St. with The Frame House Inc. and Binkley said the common ground leads to customers spending money at both businesses.
"My customers end up being her customers and vice versa," Binkley said. "Customers getting things framed started looking around. I was thrilled."
With the holiday shopping season nearing its end, Stephen Swaney he would like to see Main Street stay vibrant in the evenings.
Doug Croft, president of the Thomasville Area Chamber of Commerce, said his office has focused its efforts on encouraging citizens to shop local.
"There is room to grow," said Croft. "We have some good investments coming along the way. Downtown is a great, attractive area. Groups have really done their part."  

Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or