First Friday in Peterborough slow for most local businesses

  • Artist Gary Shepard, standing in front of some of his paintings in his studio on Grove St. Rowan Wilson—Staff Photo

  • A First Friday sign and balloons in front of the Peterborough Chamber office Rowan Wilson—Staff Photo

  • A closed sign at Knitty Gritty Yarn Shop Rowan Wilson—Staff Photo

  • An open sign in front of Joseph’s Coat Rowan Wilson—Staff Photo

  • First Friday signs were posted downtown on April 1 Staff photo by Rowan Wilson

  • A First Friday sign in front of Joseph’s Coat. Tria Yoga, behind, was also open Rowan Wilson—Staff Photo

  • A welcome flag in front of Grove & Main Antiques Rowan Wilson—Staff Photo

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 4/5/2022 9:41:08 AM
Modified: 4/5/2022 9:40:05 AM

Local Peterborough businesses were hopeful that this month’s First Friday would provide an opportunity for the community to get out, walk around town and visit open establishments. B ut most places reported a low turnout and a slow evening.

It was drizzling, gray, and chilly on April 1. Red “First Friday” signs with big white arrows pointed to stores that were open late on Main Street, Grove Street and in Depot Square. Restaurants seemed to be having a successful night. Harlows was offering take-out food and Waterhouse looked busy. But shops like Joseph’s Coat and Tria Yoga, which normally wouldn’t be open so late, didn’t experience a lot of foot traffic.

But “we stick with it and wish other stores would,” Clyde Kessell said. He is married to Françoise Bourdon, the owner of Joseph’s Coat, and was working the counter on Friday.

And there were a lot of closed signs around town.

A few families and groups walked on the sidewalk, but the streets were mostly empty.

Local resident Janet Cass was wandering with her family as it started to rain harder. She enjoys the Peterborough tradition. “It gets people out and meeting people,” she said.

Megan Suokko, owner of Dogs on Depot, is open until 7 p.m. on Fridays anyway, so she always participates in the monthly event. She was offering a big special on dog jackets and had a few dogs in the shop waiting to be picked up by their owners. Although the evening was slow, she said, “I’m happy to see people around, always a pleasure to be part of First Friday.”

Gary Shepard was painting in the back of his gallery. He is also always open on First Fridays, but hasn’t experienced an uptick of visitors walking into his shop on those evenings. He’ll keep participating though, because “it’s only once a month,” and he said that the summer and fall are always busier for him.

But the new Greater Keene and Peterborough Chamber of Commerce office in the old bank building at 45 Main St., was certainly not slow. There were balloons and signs out front and the crowd spilled out of the office and onto the sidewalk. Inside there was a musician playing guitar in a corner and a buffet of cookies, snacks, wine and beer. Chamber president Luca Paris was right out front greeting and chatting with everyone who walked in.

Paris was friendly and enthusiastic. He said he’s focussed on reimagining what a Chamber of Commerce looks like in the modern world. In the past, the chamber has been a spot for visitors and locals to drop by and pick up a map, learn about the town. But now, Paris explained, people don’t need that. They have their phones.

“There are a lot of new things we are doing that have never been done before,” he emphasized. He knows it is critical for the town to connect and collaborate. And the chamber intends to help with that using social media and digital tools. Paris explained that it is important for the “next generation to feel it’s worth it” to continue to have a chamber presence in town.

And he is very hopeful they will. “What’s been great is our conversations and interactions with the community,” Paris said. He added, “We are proving we’re serious about how we take care of the community.”


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