One night, after a long day of decorating at K.B. Jewelers, Kathleen Brackel and her friends turned off the top lights of the store to admire the Christmas decorations. After some discussing, they decided to share the beautifully lit store with the people of Hettinger and made an event called Fantasy Night. This event happens annually, every December 4th and has been ongoing for eighteen years. Over the years, Dakota Prairie Helping Hands joined the event and held a simultaneous community appreciation event for the Adams County community offering cookies, cider, and coffee.
“We wanted stronger attendance because sometimes we would do it on a Sunday afternoon, but if the weather turned bad, people wouldn’t show,” said Laurie Wickstrom, executive director of Dakota Prairie Helping Hands. “Back when we were in our other location, we were closer to K.B. Jewelers, and if people stopped in to see our event, we would tell them to check out the sales at KB Jewelers and vice versa. We thought it would be beneficial for everyone to have our events at the same time. Since then we have moved, and our new location doesn’t have a whole lot of space, so thankfully the Peacock was willing to step in.”
This year the new coffee shop in town, The Peacock Mercantile, is hosting the Dakota Prairie Helping Hands’ event. Even the Buffalo Creek Quilt Shop is staying open late for the event. Together, the four businesses are working together to attract more people to Hettinger’s downtown. These businesses working together fits into a new narrative of cooperation that downtown is trying to start.
“I’m happy to do whatever I can, whenever I can,” said Pam Burch, owner of the Peacock Mercantile. “I’m also open to home businesses. We have had different gals come in and temporarily set up their own merchandise.”
There seems to be a drive from business owners to host more exciting events in an effort to involve everyone they can.
“It would be great to have a whole night of businesses staying open. They do it in other towns. Eventually, if we could get more to stay open, I think more people would come downtown,” said Brackel.
One idea in consideration is the possibility of cross-promoting downtown businesses. Both Burch and Brackel have been discussing the possibility of customers receiving incentives to visit the other’s store. For instance, if a customer buys a specific amount of merchandise at K.B. Jewelers, they may receive a free drink card that could be redeemed at the Peacock. Everyone had an idea to add to the list.
“One of things they do in Bowman is a ladies night out. Each business is open in the evening and, whether people buy or not, they get a card punched. Then they can redeem their card for a free drink at a café or eatery. Hettinger doesn’t have to be the exact same, but it would be good to attract people to our downtown,” said Wickstrom.
Every downtown business owner shares the same goals. More people downtown leads to a stronger economy and community. The four businesses staying open together is just one example of how cooperating businesses may lead to healthier downtown and a happier customer downtown.