By Bill O’Boyle, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
WILKES-BARRE — Some odd looking buildings are popping up on Public Square.
No wonder, the structures will soon be the 2020 Downtown Wilkes-Barre Holiday Pop-Up Market Pop-Up Shops.
The Greater Wyoming Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Diamond City Partnership will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony on Saturday, Nov. 28 — Small Business Saturday — at 10:30 a.m. to unveil and celebrate the grand opening of the Downtown Wilkes-Barre’s 2020 Holiday Pop-Up Shops.
Starting on Small Business Saturday, nine of these individual and socially-distant shops will be set up on Public Square for 15 days, to allow the public to safely shop small this holiday season.
Since 2018, the Downtown Wilkes-Barre Holiday Pop-Up Market has provided local independent retailers, whether they are established or just starting up, with a low-cost opportunity to test-drive a physical presence in Downtown Wilkes-Barre.
This year, a special focus is on those retailers that may have lost a location, or need additional assistance in reaching customers as a result of COVID-19.
Pop-Up Market visitors will also enjoy Small Business Saturday discounts from merchants throughout Downtown Wilkes-Barre, as well as the Downtown Wilkes-Barre Dining Deals program, which offers discounts at participating Downtown restaurants. More information about these programs can be found at luzernecountylocal.org.
Diamond City Partnership Executive Director Larry Newman said 2020 has been an extremely challenging year for the community’s small retailers.
“Many have seen sales levels cut in half from prior years,” Newman said. “As a result, we’ve changed the traditional format of the Downtown Wilkes-Barre Pop-Up Shops. Shifting to an outdoor ‘holiday market’ on Public Square allows us to create a festive open-air marketplace, giving small businesses a new way to reach customers during this difficult time, while generating much-needed activity in Downtown during the 2020 holiday shopping season.”
Newman said the goal of the 2020 Downtown Wilkes-Barre Holiday Pop-Up Market is to help provide local retailers with another way to reach customers in a safe, open air setting as part of a COVID-19 recovery strategy, to drive holiday shopping traffic into Downtown Wilkes-Barre, and to assist in elevating Downtown’s retail tenant and merchandise mix over time.
“The vision and mission of the Holiday Pop-Up Market initiative that developed three years ago has evolved to become more relevant and more needed than ever before,” said Lindsay Griffin, Greater Wyoming Valley Chamber of Commerce COO and Vice President. “This year, the Pop-Up Market has become a critical small business initiative that will allow retailers the chance to safely do business during the holiday season and will additionally showcase our downtown and promote its existing businesses.”
Griffin said the CARES Act funding provided by Luzerne County, and the partnership with PPL Electric Utilities, have made this year’s project possible.
“We are excited to continue to partner with all of Luzerne County’s Chambers of Commerce and Main Street organizations, to continue to grow this program in 2021, with multiple locations throughout Luzerne County,” Griffin said.
The Downtown Wilkes-Barre Holiday Pop-Up Market is presented by PPL, and the new pop-up structures have been funded with Luzerne County Cares Act funding. The shops were designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and produced by Panzitta Enterprises.
“The holidays are a critical time for retailers to promote and sell their goods, and this year, it’s more important than ever to buy local and support local shops,” Newman said. “The 2020 Downtown Wilkes-Barre Holiday Pop-Up Market allows shoppers to visit local retailers safely at our open air outdoor market on Public Square.”
Newman said each retailer will have their own free-standing outdoor shop, and all social distancing and health and safety measures will be enforced at all times as per the state and federal guidelines. Mask wearing is required at all times. Masks and sanitizer will also be available on site.
Pop-Up Shops vendors include: Eleventh Element, Pittston Popcorn, Kaki Intimates, The Arch Hive, Four Story Hill Farm, Park Multimedia, 3 Buds LLC, League SVN, and Culinary Creations by Metz.
For more information on the program and to obtain a copy of the requirements and application, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit — wyomingvalleychamber.org/events.
Downtown dining deals
Newman said the downtown’s businesses are assets that “we cannot afford to lose,” and added that the inaugural Downtown W-B Dining Deals program is part of a larger campaign to encourage patronage of downtown restaurants and retailers during a very challenging holiday season.
From Saturday, Nov. 28, (Small Business Saturday), to Saturday, Dec. 12, the Diamond City Partnership, Downtown Wilkes-Barre’s non-profit management organization, will host the first ever “Downtown W-B Dining Deals” event.
During this promotion, Downtown Wilkes-Barre’s most popular restaurants and eateries will be offering a variety of “Buy One Get One” gift card deals to holiday shoppers and diners.
“This two-week event is part of DCP’s larger Downtown Rebound initiative to help our restaurants and small businesses and preserve the progress that has occurred in Downtown Wilkes-Barre during the past decade,” Newman said. “Prior to the pandemic, Downtown Wilkes-Barre was building momentum as a regional economic driver — an incubator for major employers, a hub of innovation, and a regional center for arts, culture, dining, and entertainment. The demand for a walkable lifestyle, combined with the draw of small city-living, has led developers to build and fill over 250 high end apartments — with more on the way.”
Newman said Downtown’s dining district has organically grown into a hub of international cuisine. People from all around the world invested in Downtown Wilkes-Barre and opened restaurants offering authentic foods from their countries of origin. Diners are now able to enjoy the foods of Thailand, Greece, Italy, Mexico, Brazil, Istanbul, India, the Caribbean, and more — right in the heart of the city.
The Downtown W-B Dining Deals event provides an opportunity for the community to support these restaurant owners by purchasing gift cards to be given as holiday gifts or to be used for take-out or to dine in. Shoppers can also enter a raffle to win a $100 gift card from the restaurant of their choice at participating restaurant during the Dining Deals event.
The Downtown W-B Dining Deals participants are: Abide Coffee House, Anthracite News Stand, Bronco’s Vault Brazilian Steakhouse, Circles on the Square, Franco’s Pizza, Franklin’s, Hartman Jerk Center, Jonathan’s, Istanbul Grill, Januzzi’s Pizza, Letts Eat, Mimmo’s Pizza, Pete’s Place, Pronto Via, Pour Coffee House, Senunas’, and Vesuvio’s Pizza.
For more information, visit DCP online at — www.wbdcp.org.