Open house brings hundreds to downtown Florence

By: Andrew Boardwine, Moring News

FLORENCE, S.C. — Hundreds of Pee Dee residents visited downtown Florence Thursday evening to “shop, dine and unwind.”

In partnership with the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce and many downtown businesses, the Downtown Development Corporation hosted a “Downtown Open House” that gave residents a chance to see the changes and progress in the downtown area.

Bob Sager, retail recruitment specialist with the Florence Downtown Development Corporation, said the event was a way to bring awareness of what’s going on downtown.

“We had an event similar to this a couple of years ago and it went really well,” Sager said. “We decided it was time to do it again. Back then, we had a lot of businesses opening and, since, we’ve had a lot more open. I think it’s a good thing for everybody.”

Each attendee of the event arrived at the chamber and was given a “passport” to take to each participating location. At the locations, they had their passport stamped and checked out what each store had to offer. After completing their passport, participants returned them to any restaurant to be entered to win $250 cash.

The first 100 attendees received a free Downton Florence tote bag filled with items from downtown shops and restaurants. Several attendees also won retail gift cards for downtown businesses.

Mike Miller, president of the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce, said he expects even greater things to happen downtown in the future.

“It’s important to everybody in the community,” Miller said. “So much happens downtown. Within a week, two weeks, things change. It’s amazing what it’s going to be in six months. Some of these stores are doing quite well and people still don’t know about many of them. Any opportunity to help with the Downtown Development folks, the chamber is right on it as we would with anyone else. We’re celebrating the growth of downtown and we’re nowhere near the end.”

Sager said that he has organized groups with the downtown businesses. Through that, he said, he learned that many people are visiting downtown that haven’t been in years.

Sager said there could be plans in the near future for retail shops to stay open later one night a week.

“There are still a lot of people in Florence that haven’t been downtown,” Sager said. “We want our businesses to say that they’re meeting new customers. Events like these are really a great way to showcase what downtown has to offer. Downtown is a place you can go to shop, dine and unwind.”