Chairman’s Message – December 2015

Recently a report in a major media source revealed that there is a renewed retail trend throughout the country to return to“mom and pop” stores, where customers are more than just numbers but are, instead, neighbors. More and more shoppers, the report reveals, are moving away from big box stores —including one major retailer whose earnings were at an all-time low last quarter—in search of better service, better quality ­merchandise and more personal ­relationships with shop owners.

In light of this trend, we, as downtown merchants, have an important message to share with area residents and visitors to our city:

Why leave downtown for your holiday shopping?

To welcome our holiday shoppers, the SDMA has been hard at work to ensure that downtown Sarasota looks more festive than ever!

All of the snowflakes that adorn the street lights on the 1300 to 1600 blocks have been completely refurbished and rewired, with new LED lights installed, so they will be shine brightly throughout our city.

We also will have wreaths on display in Five Points Park, as well as our beautiful Christmas tree that will once again be decorated by Jim Reese and Neil Jennings, owners of Palm Ave Express and Salon 41 on Palm Avenue.

This year—for the first time—our annual tree lighting and Holiday Party in the Park will be held on the first Thursday of the month, December 3, from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be there handing out candy canes to the children in attendance, and there will be live music, including Christmas carolers, and refreshments.

The tree lighting will be held at 7:30 p.m., followed by a brand new addition to the celebration—a family showing of a holiday movie in the park!, So, be sure to bring a blanket and chairs, and join us as we jump start the holiday season here in downtown Sarasota!

I also encourage you to welcome in the New Year in downtown Sarasota at our annual New Year’s Eve bash that the SDMA is organizing this year. The festivities begin at 1:00 p.m. on December 31, when the carnival rides open at Lemon Avenue and State Street, promising an afternoon and evening of family fun! Typically drawing as many as 25,000 attendees each year, the New Year’s Eve party also will include live music and a DJ on three stages, bars along our city streets and the traditional Pineapple Drop at midnight. Be sure to make your dinner reservations early!

More details about the New Year’s Eve festivities can be found in the article on page 5.

In closing, I think it is important to point out that these wonderful holiday events are not funded or organized by the City of Sarasota, but by our downtown merchants. It is just one more example of the commitment our local business men and women continue to uphold in ­making downtown Sarasota a premier shopping, dining and ­entertainment destination.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas, one and all!

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