Close to 40 businesses from across Washington and Henry counties will be participating in the first Junkin’ Sisters Shop Hop, a weekend event scheduled for June 26-28.
The shop hop will feature retailers as well as seasonal craft vendors from Wellman, Kalona, Riverside, Ainsworth, Washington, Crawfordsville, Mt. Pleasant and the rural areas of Washington County. Shoppers are encouraged to drive to the various locations to browse and support local businesses.
Shop Hop organizer Jennifer Ross began connecting with local shop owners and pitching the idea last October. The event was originally planned for April but was pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic. Ross said the shop hop actually works really well considering current public health guidelines.
“It’s not an event at one location with a bunch of people together at one time. It’s spread out across several different communities,” she said.
Ross added now is an especially good time to be supporting small businesses, many of whom have been hit hardest financially by the pandemic.
“The Walmarts and Menards, those types of businesses are going to be there at the end of COVID. When you support a small business, you’re supporting a dream and really helping those affected by what’s going on right now,” she said.
If the first shop hop goes well, Ross hopes to organize another in September and continue each year with two shop hops a year.
Kris Lyle, owner of Timeless Charm in Kalona, said her shop has just restocked and brought in new products that will be available to shoppers during the shop hop.
With it being the first year the event is being held, Lyle said she’s not quite sure how many people will show up, but is hoping “for a good crowd.”
“We’ve got a website so we have had orders through that but with the coronavirus, we’re basically going for three months without any income. We would definitely like to see a lot of people come out and just get folks back to coming into the stores on a daily basis,” Lyle said.
Other business owners are also hoping participating in things like the shop hop will get the news out that shops are open again.
Sam Riepe, who owns the Vintage Raven in Mt. Pleasant, said in addition to online sales, the antique store has participated in Main Street events and even some “schtick-y” things to drum up attention.
“I think the general public still doesn’t quite know what’s open. We still get people who call just to see if we’re open,” Riepe said.
For craft vendors, who work out their homes and often sell their products at craft fairs, many of which have been canceled through the spring and summer, events like the shop hop are one of their first opportunities of the season to see customers face-to-face.
Dorcas Jarrard, who makes custom wood block sets out of her home in rural Washington, said she usually does 12 craft shows a year, eight of which happen in the fall. So far, she has only been able to sign up for four.
“I haven’t done any [craft shows]. Every single one has been canceled so far. Normally, from march on is when you start having shows,” she said.
Though the custom wood blocks are more of a hobby for Jarrard, she said she’s still excited to be seeing people and hopefully selling some of her products this weekend.
“With everything being canceled and shut down, this is the kind of event people can looking forward to after having such a devastating couple of months,” she said.