Baldwin City businesses plan for big festival weekend
Baldwin City businesses are preparing for their “second Christmas,” otherwise known as the Maple Leaf Festival.
Merchants and restaurants downtown and along Route 56 say they’re looking forward to a wave of spending from visitors coming to town for the festival.
Shirley Logan, who owns Meemaw’s Treasure Chest at 713 High Street along with her husband, Mike, is preparing for her first festival. The used clothing and consignment store will offer a number of specials in addition to a sidewalk presence, she said.
Owners of the consignment booths on the store’s upper floor, are also excited, Logan said. “We have filled about half that consignment space,” she said. “I think the festival is a draw for our consignment booths. We’ve had a couple of new ones in the last minute.”
The city’s two Mexican restaurants are preparing for their first festival with plans to offer food in front of their storefronts.
Michael Pacheco of El Jacal at 711 High Street, said a menu of Mexican food items has been selected for outside sales. The restaurant will have a buffet inside during the festival.
Pacheco is hopeful the exposure gained from the festival will promote another side of the restaurant’s business. “We want to make people aware of our catering business,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to showcase what we do.”
The retail action won’t only be downtown. Bonnie Plumberg, owner of the Pink Lady stores at N. 215 North Sixth St., said her businesses captures a lot of traffic from festival-goers using the nearby parking lots at Baldwin High and Middle schools. She increases that by offering parking in a lot south of her two shops.
Plumberg anticipates traffic will be better than last year, when the rebuilding of North Sixth Street prevented visitors from Lawrence to enter Baldwin City via County Road 1055. “We actually put signs on the highway to get people up here,” she said.
Although she doesn’t do as much business as when her shop was downtown, the weekend is important, Plumberg said. “We do have a good weekend (during the festival),” she said “It’s like a second Christmas. It’s tremendously important to Baldwin businesses.”
She plans an outdoor sale in front of her shops and has stocked up on Christmas items because of their popularity with festival shoppers, Plumberg said.
Across U.S. Highway 56 to the south, Kora Cole is preparing for her second festival weekend as owner of the Cranberry Market at S. 111 Sixth St..
She’ll have a number of homemade seasonal fudges for sale and fall décor items, she said. To attract foot traffic, the store will have items on the front porch of the old house it occupies, she said. Family members will work to help with the crunch and a new store employee will start a week before the festival, Cole said.
Donna Curran, Maple Leaf Festival vendor coordinator, said downtown businesses must comply with sidewalk vending rules in the area the festival controls: Sixth to Ninth streets on High Street and from Ames to Lincoln streets on Eighth Street.
Festival rules stipulate businesses vending on the sidewalk must sell only items sold in their stores and outdoor activities are limited to the same 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday hours that apply to festival booths, Curran said.