By DENISE FEDOROW
A group of dedicated business owners in Nappanee have banded together to re-form a Second Saturdays committee and get the monthly community event up and running again.
After its initial start in spring 2010 and a couple of changes in leadership, the committee disbanded last fall. Coppes Commons continued to offer some unofficial Second Saturday events at their location and last month prior to the new committee forming to rejuvenate the community event that will re-launch this Saturday.
The new committee consists of Marcus and Debra Miller, Main Street Coffee Shop; Caleb Mast, Coppes Commons; Lucinda Gaut, Downtown Design & Consign; Floyd Borkholder, Kountry Kabinets; and Wendell and Marilyn Miller, Veni’s Sweet Shop. That group has been able to raise the sponsorship money needed to get the program off the ground again.
“We have a lot to offer that people don’t know about,” Debra Miller said. “This is one way to let people know what’s here.”
For the whole community
In the past, most Second Saturday events and specials concentrated on the downtown area, this committee has expanded to include businesses on both the east and west ends of town.
“People like that it’s a community event and it’s not just town,” Floyd Borkholder said. “The countryside shops are also participating.”
Borkholder said he can sense a difference in attitude about Second Saturdays from a business perspective.
“Businesses are more excited,” he said. “We received more sponsorships, which equals more revenue.”
Gaut said the increased enthusiasm is probably because people did miss Second Saturdays and that business owners realized it was good for business. She said past visitors would comment on different stores and unique things they found.
“It’s important to work as a community to do events to bring people in to showcase Nappanee,” she said.
The committee hired a couple of people to help ensure Second Saturdays is successful. They hired Liz Mullet as events coordinator. Before Mullet retired and sold her business, Liz’s Furniture Shoppe, she was a key player in the previous Second Saturdays. The committee also hired Emily Hershberger to do online marketing on the Second Saturday website and a Facebook page.
Marcus Miller said Second Saturday will not have a specific theme each month, but rather events that businesses can choose to play off month to month. Caleb said that allows businesses to come up with their own ideas at their own scale. For example, a grill store can have a grilling event on a Second Saturday.
Although no longer a chamber-sponsored event, Jeff Kitson, executive director of the Nappanee Chamber of Commerce, said he couldn’t be happier about Second Saturdays being resurrected.
“A group of retailers with a passion and desire to see this go have done a phenomenal job of getting businesses involved and excited and raised sponsorships,” he said. “They have our full support.”
Kitson said the committee still wants to keep Second Saturday a family-friendly event, but does plan to offer activities for adults as well.
One activity planned for Saturday’s Second Saturday kick-off is quilt mural refurbishing, with 17 art students helping to refurbish the quilt murals. Sponsored by Elkhart County Convention and Tourism Bureau, the event will be held at Coppes Commons. There will also be wooden blocks that children can paint.
A soup bowl fundraiser for Family Christian Development Center will also be held at Coppes Commons that day. There will be an Easter egg hunt, a maple syrup demonstration at Leadership Park and a free movie at the Nappanee Theatre (“Hop” will be shown twice).
Arden and Evidene Graber of Graber’s Flooring will be celebrating their 20th anniversary during Second Saturday by serving a free lunch at the lot next to John’s Butcher Shop. The library will also have an activity for children and there will be other fun events and sales all over town.
“(Nappanee is) a great community,” Gaut said, “and this is a way to showcase that.”