ADBA looks to draw more customers to downtown Albemarle through ‘Social Saturdays’

As part of a new campaign to attract foot traffic to the area, people are encouraged to come to downtown Albemarle during the last Saturday of each month — where there will be food trucks, live entertainment and extended hours for many businesses.

The initiative, known as “Social Saturdays,” is the brainchild of the Albemarle Downtown Business Alliance, a group of business owners that formed last year and regularly meets to help promote themselves and revitalize the downtown district. The group came up with the idea late last year and completed plans to implement it last month.

“We really just kind of wanted to bring more attention and more excitement to downtown,” said Livi Bug’s Boutique owner Olivia Phillips, who is the liaison between the ADBA and the Albemarle Downtown Development Corporation. “We have lots of new businesses, so we really just wanted to revitalize that feeling of people coming downtown and spending a full day.”

Olivia Phillips, owner of Livi Bug’s Boutique, has helped to spearhead the “Social Saturdays” campaign.

Phillips and other ADBA members have been contacting downtown businesses to let them know about the new campaign through email and Facebook. While most businesses typically close on Saturdays around 2 p.m., Phillips said, the goal is to stay open throughout the day.

“I’m pleased to see our downtown businesses’ enthusiasm in playing an active role to add to the downtown experience,” said Albemarle Downtown Development Director Joy Almond. “The ADBA has already hosted two successful activities with the Ladies Fall Crawl and Downtown Christmas Cookie Crawl. These activities are setting the stage for more great things to come!”

The name of the campaign serves multiple purposes aside from just bringing people to downtown. Phillips hopes people will take advantage of the Social District, established last year, which allows people to consume alcoholic beverages in certain areas and post about their experiences, including photos, on social media with the hashtag #SocialSaturdays to spread awareness.

The first event will be this Saturday. The plan is for most businesses to be open from 11:30 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. Phillips said there will be a map detailing which businesses are taking part and thus will have extended hours.

“I’m sure we will see how things go, but we really want to make it an all-day thing,” Phillips said.

The feedback from businesses “has been excitement” regarding the chance to be exposed to more customers, Phillips said.

Aside from businesses staying open later, many food trucks will position themselves throughout the area, including on Main Street, First Street and Second Street, and musicians and bands will play at Courtyard Square Park, beginning at 2 p.m.

The only confirmed musician is Rick Scaffe, who will perform at 6:30 p.m., Phillips said. Other singers or groups can sign up here.

Besides the food trucks and music, the Saturday event coincides with the Stanly County Winter Wine Festival at Market Station, which should also draw tons of people to the area, and the grand opening of Uwharrie Brewing, located behind City Hall.

The Stanly County Museum will be open, with Ellie’s Slime Emporium set up go entertain young kids.

“We want people to want to be downtown,” Phillips said. “I feel like this is the first of many things that we’re looking at implementing to drive traffic and create a fun environment for the community.”

The ADBA has dates set for the rest of the year. It will hold the remaining Social Saturdays on March 25, April 29, May 27, June 24, July 29, Aug. 26, Sept. 30, Oct. 28, Nov. 25 and Dec. 30.