MainStreet Libertyville's Virtual First Friday a success
First Fridays in downtown Libertyville draw visitors from within town, surrounding communities and even as far as downtown Chicago.
Beginning in March and continuing through December, MainStreet Libertyville's downtown businesses host special sales, live entertainment and dining and drink specials from 6-9 p.m. The area bustles with foot traffic and a festive atmosphere permeates the downtown.
However, when Gov. J.B. Pritzker enacted the stay-at-home order to curtail the spread of COVID-19, it seemed the First Friday in April would be curtailed as well. But thanks to quick-thinking MainStreet Libertyville board member Veronica Sloma, plans began immediately to take the event online. In just under one week, MainStreet Libertyville was prepped and ready to host its first Virtual First Friday.
"While we could not bring the community together to celebrate physically during April for First Friday, we sure could find a way to gather virtually online," said Sloma.
The Virtual First Friday was held all day April 3 as a public event using Facebook. Special discounts from MainStreet Libertyville business members were advertised, and retailers and restaurants touted their online, curbside and delivery options. Some businesses used the event to bolster engagement on their own social media channels with additional contests and giveaways.
Virtual attendees qualified for a chance to win one of two $50 MainStreet Libertyville gift cards if they answered three questions posted to the event throughout the day.
Participants listed their favorite things about Libertyville and the MainStreet Libertyville event that they "can't live without," and posted photos of recent purchases made in downtown Libertyville to qualify for a prize.
"It was great to learn about everyone's favorite events, memories and businesses in downtown Libertyville," Sloma said. "Common themes included Libertyville's enduring sense of community, easy access via public transportation (Metra) and the abundance of events offered in Libertyville's downtown."
A total of 19 businesses participated, including B. Bungalow; Edie Boutique; Forest Bootery; How Impressive!; Main Street Social; Maison Chic Shop; Mickey Finn's Brewery; Repeat Street Libertyville; Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Libertyville; Rolland's Jewelers; Shakou Libertyville; Touche Salon; O'Toole's Libertyville; Oh Olive, the Olive Oil Store; Pizzeria DeVille; Physique MD; Black Cat Yoga; Heather's Gym; and Libbyville Lifestyle Boutique.
MainStreet Libertyville's small business owners were pleased with the results of the Virtual First Friday. Some shop owners reported attracting new customers through the event. Other businesses advertised the availability of local gift and product curbside and pickup options.
"Virtual First Friday was a very good event for online customer engagement, and reaching both existing and new customers," said Maria Fricano, owner of Maison Chic Shop.
Curbside orders were also popular on Friday.
"It was a busy Friday filling orders for customers for curbside pickup," said Tom Lockowitz, owner of Libertyville's Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.
Mary Koval, owner of Oh Olive, the Olive Oil Store, also connected with local customers.
"One of my customers in the area was very happy to learn about local pickup at the store," Koval said.
The event reached an online audience of 5,400 people, and more than 400 indicated they were "interested" or "going" to the event. The outpouring of support from both Libertyville residents and surrounding communities made this unique Virtual First Friday a successful event during a difficult economic time.
"I thought Virtual First Friday was a great idea! I am still available to fulfill orders for prearranged pickup at the back of my store," said Kristine Knutson, owner of How Impressive!, who filled an order for an Easter basket for a new customer who lives in the area.
Follow #ittakesaville on Instagram to see more of what is going on in downtown Libertyville.
Most Libertyville restaurants and many shops and service businesses are offering carryout, delivery and curbside pickup. Use the MainStreet Libertyville directory to connect with the local services that you need.