BY Dan Stokes, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
WILKES-BARRE — The city’s downtown has been a hot bed for shoppers seeking gifts for the holiday season since Thanksgiving.
Local businesses have displayed their services, goods and products at The Midtown Village, located at 41 S. Main St., for the past five weekends, generating buzz for their brands.
On Sunday, the Holiday Pop-Up Shops came to a close, and with them some fond memories of the experience.
“Every year, we look to grow and develop,” said Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce Chief Operating Officer Lindsay Bezick. “I think we noticed what worked, what didn’t work. But we will sit down with everyone who participated and try to see how we can make next year great.”
This year was the second year for the shops.
Bezick noted that this year community events were added to entice the public to stop in and pick up a present for a loved one.
“We had some new ideas,” she said. “We had readings from the library and owners could come and have their pets take a photo with Santa Claus.”
Bezick said the shops benefited downtown as a whole.
“Seeing how people came to downtown to shop local other businesses benefited,” Bezick added. “They are checking out other stores and dining at local eateries.
“I just can’t thank everyone enough for coming down, checking us out and making a purchase. The support was great.”
Eleven vendors called the Midtown Village home for the holiday season. Six of them were there every weekend, while another five rotated in on a weekly basis.
Robert Scocozzo, CEO of Mia Bella’s Gourmet Products, had a corner of his own at the Pop-Up Shops for the past five weekends. He’s seen his brand’s awareness in the area grow because of it.
“We’ve been in Wilkes-Barre for 18 years and people didn’t know that we are a mile away,” Scocozzo said. “Everyone I met was genuinely interested in our products.”
Scocozzo offered a 20 percent discount to customers who visited him at the Pop-Up Shops. He also handed them a coupon offering the same discount that can be redeemed at his company’s brick-and-mortar store located at 1 George Ave. in Wilkes-Barre
“We don’t really advertise because we don’t just sell locally, we sell internationally,” Scocozzo mentioned. “I think we have some new fans, and we will have more because of word of mouth.”
Scocozzo said he had the same customers every week, who came specifically to purchase new hand-made candles he brought to the shop.
“I think the Pop-Up Shops are great for local businesses,” he said. “It’s was great the Chamber offered me the chance to do this again and their commitment to helping out local businesses and vendors.
“Shopping local is very important. It was great to see the wide variety of local businesses on display the past few weeks.”
The shops were sponsored by the PPL Foundation, which was able to secure a $5,000 grant to ensure the shop’s weekend operation.