Norwich BID Hosting Holiday Vendor Fairs
Published: December 11th, 2023
By: Sarah Genter

Norwich BID hosting holiday vendor fairs The Norwich BID has added to their litany of holiday events with "Santa's Elf's Workshop," a local small business vendor fair in the former Community Bank location in downtown Norwich. They will be hosting several holiday activities in downtown Norwich on December 22, and another vendor fair on December 23. (Photo by Sarah Genter)

NORWICH — The Norwich Business Improvement District (BID) is adding to their repertoire of holiday events with "Santa's Elf's Workshop," a new small business vendor fair held in the former Community Bank location in downtown Norwich.

The BID held their first event over the weekend with more than ten vendors and a great turnout from the community. BID Board Member Mindy Chawgo said local businesses will be back on Saturday, December 23 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for a “Procrastinator’s Weekend,” which will include more than 20 vendors and special deals.

On Friday, December 22, she said the BID will also be putting on some fun holiday activities to further encourage local shoppers to visit the downtown area.

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“We’re doing a soup crawl/chili crawl with all the local restaurants. We’re doing a sleigh ride that night from 5 to 8 [p.m.],” said Chawgo. “We’re also doing carolers that night, we’re going to have a surprise in the park. We’re going to do Santa visits. We’re also doing some late night, stay open stores, so it’ll kind of be like a shop late.”

She said it’s important to support local businesses, especially during the holiday season. These new vendor fairs not only encourage local shopping, but also showcase small businesses who don’t have a storefront or other physical location to shop.

“I think it’s important to have these small shops downtown during the holidays to showcase that there’s more out there. So I thought it would be really fun to add to the community,” said Chawgo. “I thought it would bring a draw downtown to have them here, and also highlight their businesses that don’t have those little pop up shops at their houses.”

For vendors selling at the events, Chawgo said she hopes it also shows them that downtown Norwich is thriving and the community is there to support small businesses.

“If they’re home and they see that downtown is vital and downtown is busy and there’s shoppers downtown, they might want to have a retail store downtown as well. If they see the draw that brings people down here they may want to invest in the community and have a shop downtown eventually,” she said.

What’s more, the vendor fairs have the potential to benefit not just the businesses selling at them. Chawgo said she hopes when people visit downtown to attend the fair, they also take the opportunity to stroll downtown and check out the businesses with storefronts – especially with the recent spate of fair weather.

“Then they're going to eat locally, and then they're going to shop locally, and visit Santa Claus, and visit Nina’s and have some pizza, or grab a coffee at Deja Brew and shop at the local candy store, and do those things that are all local that we want people downton for,” she said. “On a beautiful day like this, you don't just stop at one place, you stop at all the local spots. And that’s important to me, to have people walking our local streets.”

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In the future, Chawgo said she hopes to keep the vendor fairs going not just during the holiday season, but year-round.

“I plan on doing it every year, and then hopefully when we kick off the new year we’ll start doing it a little bit more as well, and kick in more holidays and kick in more festivities,” Chawgo explained. “Then when we hit in January when it’s a little bit slower for the businesses, then we can do and change it to a diff theme and do some specials or do some winter wonderland February something. So we’ll kind of start changing it up.”

“Now that I can see that it can be a success, and that these people all have followers that are going to follow them around and pay attention to downtown, now that I know that we can do it, the more the merrier.”

In addition to the hard work by the Norwich BID and local businesses and the support of the community, Chawgo said the vendor fairs were made possible by the owners of the former Community Bank location, who have donated the use of the space.

With more local shopping events on the horizon, Chawgo encourages area residents to support their local small businesses.

“I think it’s just important to shop local. I think that’s huge. And I know it’s really hard right now. I think it’s easy to stay at home; I think that’s simple for everybody. But I think if people take the energy and try to support local, again, we can keep our money local, and I think that’s important.”

For more information on the BID and their upcoming events, visit the Norwich Business Improvement District Facebook page.