“Shop local!” was the mantra of the day for the All About Downtown Street Fair, held on Saturday, Sept. 29 and hosted by the Historic Downtown Jersey City Special Improvement District (HDSID).
Thousands of Hudson County residents – most of them from Jersey City – came out to support the fair, which was held to boost local merchants and businesses based downtown. According to organizers with the HDSID, an estimated 20,000 people turned up to shop, eat, dance, and listen to live music during the 11-hour fiesta. That’s an increase over the 16,000 to 18,000 people who attended the inaugural fair in 2011.
Modeled after the successful Everything Jersey City Festival hosted each May by the Central Avenue Special Improvement District in the Heights, the fair is designed to highlight businesses in the area and showcase local commerce. While the Newark and Jersey corridors are teeming with cute restaurants, bars, and boutiques, these businesses must still compete with comparable establishments in nearby Hoboken, New York, and Newport Centre Mall. In recent years the HDSID, downtown merchants, and residents have sponsored several efforts to remind residents to shop local, including the annual Make My City week.
After another successful community block party on Sept. 29, the All About Downtown Street Fair could well become an annual fall event.
Floros said the organization hopes to make the street fair an annual event.
Keeping to local
For the street fair, which took place on Newark Avenue between Grove Street and Jersey Avenue, area restaurants and shops set up outdoor tents under which they sold their goods. The idea was to bring attention to shops and boutiques located on side streets that might be off the beaten path, and which might be overlooked, or forgotten, by the shopping public.
“I always forget that place is there,” said Jersey City resident G. Toshi, referring to Vivi Girl, a little clothing boutique on Jersey Avenue. Toshi eyed another shopper’s Apple & Bee bag and contemplated getting one of her own.
“I guess the street fair is a good idea, ‘cause it reminds you of businesses that you kind of know are there, but maybe don’t go to when you could. Instead, you go to chain stores ‘cause they’re there and you’re more aware of them,” Toshi added. “But there’s no reason some things I buy couldn’t be bought at some of these [independently-owned local] places.”
Interestingly, the fair also included participation from some businesses from as far away as Newark. Floros told the Reporter last month that the HDSID expanded its advertising for the street fair this year and promoted the event in New York City and Hoboken – cities that often attract shoppers from Jersey City.
Local music acts and craft artists were also on-hand to lend a party atmosphere to the festival. One music stage was set up for live band performances at Grove Plaza, while Dancing Tony (a.k.a. Anthony Susco), a popular local club DJ, entertained the crowd on Barrow Street. The Barrow staging area also included dance performances from Nimbus Dance Works, a Jersey City-based company that recently opened a dance school downtown.
In all, there were about 80 vendors and 12 food trucks. In addition, many restaurants located along Newark Avenue between Jersey and Grove either offered outdoor seating areas, or set up their own outdoor food trucks for the day-long event.
E-mail E. Assata Wright at email@example.com.