The lights of the tree shined brightly in Canan Commons as ‘Light Up DWNTWN’ celebrated the start of the holiday season in Muncie Dec. 2.
But past the lights of fires, ice carving and Santa’s red nose were other lights — the lights of small businesses, bursting at the seams with customers seeing what local artisans had to offer.
A key part of the Light Up DWNTWN event was the winter premiere of the Muncie Makers Market — a place for “growers and makers” in Delaware County to sell everything from handmade cards and soap to alcohol-infused baked goods.
“We try not to have too much of the same … but everything is handmade and everything is local,” said Moth Danner, who is responsible for organizing the Makers Market.
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The Muncie Makers Market is a weekly event from June to October, but Moth said the popularity of the market caused the city, specifically the Downtown Development Partnership, to invite them to the Light Up DWNTWN event.
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Those who attended the event said they were impressed not only with the offerings of the market, but by the improvements to downtown Muncie.
Carolyn Nunley, a longtime Muncie resident, was impressed by what she saw the entire night.
“I walked in [the Makers Market] and was just amazed,” she said. “I just said, ‘wow!’”
Nunley, who lives with her son and three grandchildren, likes finding activities they can all do around Christmas. They did some Black Friday shopping along McGalliard Road the week before, but were interested to see what the Light Up DWNTWN and Makers Market had to offer.
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“I liked looking around and seeing all the new stuff [downtown],” Nunley said. “This is my first time down here in ages. I just didn’t know there was so much here.”
Nunley isn’t alone. According to the National Federation of Independent Business (NIFB), small-business holiday shopping is up 13 percent over 2015.
“You’re supporting the Muncie economy — the money you spend here stays in the community,” Danner said.
Danner also said she feels the supposed “town and gown divide” is fake, and supporting local businesses is a great way for students to get involved in their new community.
“We don’t do ‘Black Friday’ here. We have great stuff, and everybody you meet is friendly,” Danner said. “Friendly is the new black.”