Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sidewalk Sales: The Best Strategies

Summer is synonymous with vacations, suntans, and sidewalk sales. The Downtown Rochester Sidewalk sales event was a unique summer experience. Downtown Rochester, Michigan has a great mix of architecture, restaurants, and businesses.

You can enjoy Rochester’s interesting array of architecture, including the oldest commercial building in Rochester—
The Home Bakery (which was built in 1849),

 the Village Shoe Inn (which used to be a church),

and many other interesting buildings that now house businesses.

Downtown Rochester has a wide variety of restaurants on Main Street and the surrounding blocks. Menus range from light snacks to full course meals and desserts.
  • Mr. B's
  • Kruse and Muer on Main
  • Penny Black
  • Give Thanks Bakery
  • Bean and Leaf Café
  • Rochester Sander’s Candy and Dessert
  • Chomp Deli, Grill and Juice
  • The Victorian Restaurant and Tea House

I was pleasantly surprised when I approached the Rochester Brunch House and was invited in by one of the owners. They were having an open house to introduce the restaurant, which is scheduled to open for business next week.

The décor is elegant yet inviting. 

And the menu is diverse. It includes breakfast combinations, stuffed omelets, burgers, sandwiches, wraps and pitas, salads, and a host of sides and beverages--something for everyone. I am looking forward to eating there soon.

Downtown Rochester has some unique shops and spas. Even though I was disappointed to see that a few stores and restaurants have closed their doors, I was delighted to see that other interesting businesses have opened in their places. Downtown Rochester is a great place to buy shoes and purses, women and children’s clothing, Native American inspired items, jewelry, and art.

To make your sidewalk sales experience pleasurable, I recommend the following:
  • Bring quarters for the parking meters, and monitor your time. Rochester's meters also take credit and debit cards.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and clothing.
  • Depending on the weather, wear sunscreen or carry rain gear. If it's hot, go early.
  • Carry a small purse with a shoulder strap to keep your hands free for carrying packages. I wore cargo pants to store coupons and change for the parking meter.
  • Don't limit your shopping to the items displayed on the sidewalks. Go inside the store for a larger selection and possibly more sales. (Stepping inside the store for a few minutes will also provide relief from the hot sun.)
  • Some merchants set up tables but do not have a store. If you like their merchandise, ask for their website or business card.
  • Bring a bottle of cold water.
  • After you leave, drive around the area. You might find that some nearby residents hold garage sales, and some stores a few miles away also have sidewalk sales and bargains.

Parking was plentiful. I arrived at noon on Saturday and was able to secure a parking space at a meter on the first downtown street on which I turned. Meters are limited to 3-hours, and free parking is available in some parking lots that are in close proximity to shops and restaurants.

Even if you don't find a good bargain or a special item to purchase, focus on the experience. Appreciate the architecture; sample the food; develop relationships by asking for business cards and/or websites for future transactions; and have fun by enjoying the music, face painting, and activities.

What special summer memories do you have? This is the story in you. Share it.


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