'It made a huge difference': Downtown Durham businesses rejoice for return of the Streetery

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Small businesses in downtown Durham are thrilled for the long-awaited return of the Streetery.

The event, which closed downtown streets so people can shop and eat locally, was brought to a halt as COVID-19 cases surged during the winter months. But with numbers declining, organizers feel it's safe to bring back.

CHECK HERE: For a map of roads that will be closed for the event

The Artisan Market owner Karen Casey sent a letter to organizers petitioning for a comeback.

"It made a huge difference and I think that lasted into our Christmas season," said Casey. "It's one of the few things that actually added to our bottom line in a big way last year. I think it contributed to the longevity of this store because people that hadn't been downtown, actually came out downtown and felt comfortable."

Downtown Durham runs the event and provides outdoor furniture for restaurants that might have it in the budget for such a purchase.

CEO of the Durham Streetery, Nicole Thompson, describes the plans for the future, "(to) take it on the road so to speak, because we had a lot of other businesses outside of the original Streetery footprint who wanted to know when it was going to come to that part of downtown."

For now, it's the businesses in the heart of Durham that will enjoy the luxury of what the event has to offer.

"The increased traffic. The increased awareness. The increased sales," said Casey. "I literally had in the evening times between 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. -- I would stay open extra late -- I would sometimes have 25 people waiting and an hour-and-a-half spaced out, which never usually happens."

The event starts on March 19 and will run every Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
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