Haircuts are usually by appointment only at Carlos Leija’s Second Street FadeAholics barbershop, but he’ll cut you some slack on May 15. Walk-ins are welcome during Yakima’s Spring Into Downtown event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. that day.
Leija’s also lopping 50 percent off his prices that day. With incentives like that, he figures he and his two-man staff — Rudy Tinajero, Jose Carrasco — will have their hands full in their cozy shop at 18 N. Second St.
“I been practicing on cutting with my feet,” he joked.
It’s the first year FadeAholics has taken part in the shopping promotion, which is sponsored by Pacific Power and is the brainchild of the Downtown Association of Yakima. For that matter, it’s the first time DAY has staged it in the spring. It’s been going for several years — but until now, it’s always been in late fall.
However, with so many local businesses struggling to get back on their feet because of the pandemic, DAY figured an extra boost couldn’t hurt, Executive Director Andrew Holt said.
“After the successful November Small Business Saturday event,” Holt said, “the predominant theme from the businesses was, can you do it again? Can you do one in spring? And we said, yes.”
Leija wanted to get in on it last year but didn’t hear about it in time. “Next year,” he told himself, “I’m not gonna miss out.”
If you ask businesspeople like Kay Mahan, who manages the American Cancer Society’s Discovery Shop at 513 W. Yakima Ave., Leija’s making a smart decision.
Mahan’s shop has signed on for all of DAY’s small-business promotions from the beginning.
“We have had great success with these events and we just want to continue,” she said.
This time around, the Discovery Shop’s counting on Spring Into Downtown to help with some spring cleaning. Among other things, the shop has a surplus of donated items from recent estate sales, and Mahan’s hoping a 25-percent-off-everything sale will help clear some room.
“This will help us and also help our customers by finding more stuff,” she said.
That’s exactly what Holt’s hoping, too.
“The event has several goals,” he said. “The two most important being: draw a large number of people downtown to enjoy the vast array of its offerings, and to have folks experience the charms of businesses that they have never been into, or haven’t visited in a long time.”
Here’s how it works:
Shoppers stop at any of three check-in stations where they can pick up “passports” with maps, instructions, posters and details on the 47 participating businesses.
The check-in stations are easy to find:
The Wheatland Bank parking lot, 201 E. Yakima Ave.
The Cashmere Valley Bank parking lot, 127 W. Yakima Ave.
The DAY offices, 14 S. First St.
When they check in, shoppers can also sign up to win valuable gift baskets filled with goods and gift certificates from the businesses. Representatives of Pacific Power will conduct the drawing, which will be held during a Facebook Live on DAY’s Facebook page the following Tuesday.
Holt said each business sets their own specials during the event, and many have added extra touches, such as complimentary treats — maybe even some entertainment. Most have also beefed up staffing for the day to make sure they can keep up with the anticipated traffic.
Despite recent loosening of COVID-related health restrictions, businesses are still required to follow some precautions. That means masks and social distancing for everybody.
DAY hopes the turnout will show that the valley is recovering from the gut punch the past year’s pandemic delivered to local businesses. The association also hopes it’ll be another way to make customers more aware of what downtown has to offer.
“We know we have hit the mark when someone says, I love this place and I didn’t even know it was here,” Holt said.