Vashong merchants plan to stay up late on Thursdays

In an effort to encourage people to shop locally, several Vashon shops and stores will stay open until 7 p.m. on Thursdays, starting this week.

The move is the first step in a larger effort to reactivate the Island’s merchant association, which was active for years but has recently been dormant, said Bettie Edwards, owner of The Little House.

The merchants — a group that includes nearly every store in Vashon town as well as some further south on the Island — hope the effort will strengthen and sustain Vashon’s local commerce.

Edwards said the group will also support one another. By knowing each other and the wares they sell, merchants will be able to direct shoppers in search of specific items, she said.

“The point is to get a stronger sense of commerce among the merchants and to get us working together,” Edwards said.

By working together, she added, “We can bring a stronger sense of community to the downtown core and beyond.”

The effort to renew the merchants association started when Nancy Katica, co-owner of the Vashon Bookshop, came to Edwards and suggested they try to get it going again, Edwards said. Edwards, who has long championed the need to support local business, was happy to support Katica’s effort.

The group has since begun to meet to brainstorm ideas to add more energy to the local commerce scene. They also plan to produce a special logo that will go onto the doors of businesses announcing they’re open until 7 p.m. on Thursdays.

Edwards said the group did a late-night shopping effort before. Asked why she thinks this effort will take off, she said, “I think we’re trying to be optimistic.”

The group, she added, is working in conjunction with the Vashon-Maury Chamber of Commerce and will act as a sounding board, taking ideas it comes up with to the larger chamber.

Edwards said such a move is necessary to keep small businesses healthy on Vashon. A second UPS truck has started delivering goods on the Island, a sign of how many people opt to order from the huge retailers, she said.

“But it’s not that supports the schools and the ballets and the other events,” she said. “It’s your local merchants.”

— Leslie Brown

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