WAPAKONETA — Downtown Wapakoneta was a bustling place Saturday as people supported Small Business Saturday.
Over at Casa Chic, co-owner Linda Tomlinson was pleased with the traffic they’ve seen.
“Real good, very steady,” Tomlinson said.
Tomlinson is also president of the Wapakoneta Specialty Shops Association and says it’s important to support small businesses.
“It’s the heartbeat of any downtown. It truly helps to drive and support the whole area by shopping small and shopping local,” Tomlinson said.
That’s also true in Bluffton, where there are a number of retail shops.
“If you come to our downtown, we have one small business after another, and they really provide us with the necessities in Bluffton. It’s pretty amazing. If you want to buy a refrigerator, you can. If you want to buy a sweater, you can, and really if you want to shop for something in Bluffton we can answer so many needs,” said Paula Scott, CEO of the Bluffton Area Chamber of Commerce.
On Saturday, Bluffton kicked off its annual Blaze of Lights, minus the crowds for the lighting ceremony and parade due to COVID-19 concerns.
“They normally have 4,000 people. You can’t do that (now). So all of our events are really come in your car and tour the lights. We have a drive-in movie on the fifth (of December). Our theme is you can’t stop Christmas from coming,” Scott said.
In downtown Lima, there is a lack of retail stores, a problem that’s been going on for a while, despite recent development in the downtown.
“I’ve been downtown the entire time that we’ve been open,” said Marc Bowker, owner of Alger Ego Comics. “And the word that I’ve always used for downtown is ‘potential.’ I think we keep inching closer and closer to that potential. We add some new businesses, but then some businesses go away. Now we’ve got these bigger projects on the horizon that are coming to fruition.”
He’s hopeful more retailers will start seeing downtown Lima for its potential.
“The missing component has always been retail,” Bowker said. “We have a limited number of small business retailers in downtown Lima and as one of them, I would love to see more retail shops open downtown and to be in closer proximity to each other. There’s absolutely no reason that downtown Lima can’t be like a Short North in Columbus or like in Oregon District in Dayton. We just need some spaces, and we need some retailers to take a chance.”
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.