ELLSWORTH, Maine — In downtown Ellsworth, it’s clear the “most wonderful time of the year” has arrived, despite a year that’s been tougher than most. Holiday displays fill the windows of shops lining Main Street and strands of lights snake up lamp posts, lighting up the pavement. This is where people are being encouraged to spend their money this holiday season to help support businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic.
On every Thursday of the month until Christmas, 15 shops and restaurants in Ellsworth will be open later than usual for a “Little Christmas Pickle” hunt. This new event is designed to help promote participating local businesses. At 4 p.m., they will be hiding ornamental pickles in the facilities, and customers and shoppers can come in to search for the decoration until 8 p.m. Whoever finds it will win a prize, as a play on the classic Christmas pickle tradition.
Susan Nordman is a co-owner of the store “Bliss," which opened in May, and she came up with this idea. She says at her store, winners will be able to choose a prize from a basket – which will include items like a free bar of soap, latte, or dessert from another participating location. The goal is to get people into as many participating locations as possible safely. Participants will be asked to follow COVID-19 precautions, like social distancing, wearing masks, and using hand sanitizer.
Nordman says the community has had a good reaction to news of this event – and she thinks a lot of that is accredited to a challenging year.
“I find that people are in the mood for holiday spirit, and I think that people are really looking for a connection,” Nordman told NEWS CENTER Maine. “We’ve been so isolated in our own homes, so I think people are really looking forward to just coming out and interacting with other people.”
The Ellsworth Area Chamber of Commerce is also standing behind this initiative. Executive Director Gretchen Wilson says she hopes the collaboration between stores and restaurants will bring more people to town, noting shopping local is more important than ever.
“This is the year that you really begin to realize that many of our businesses could potentially close, based on the fact that their income is a half or less what it was in 2019,” Wilson expressed. “For most small retail businesses, especially in Maine, it’s the summer season and then the Christmas season, and that’s it.”
Nordman says next year, she wants to try to do even more events to get people out to enjoy Ellsworth. Locations participating in the “Little Christmas Pickle” hunt are:
- 207 Mainer
- 2nd to None
- Airline Brewing Company
- The Bud Connection
- The Dream Catcher Antiques & Collectibles
- Finn's Irish Pub
- Fogtown Brewing Company
- Margaritas Mexican Restaurant
- Poppy & Polka Dot Boutique
- Provender Kitchen + Bar
- Sugar Mags
- Toko Ellsworth
- Union River Book & Toy Co.
You can find out more information on Enjoy Ellsworth's website.