It was only two years ago that small retailers throughout the South End began to feel a sense of unease about the future of the neighborhood’s cozy business climate.
Uniting to bring attention to the cause, they awoke the South End, and then launched a new business partnership called South End Local.
Now, after coming through to the other side, retailers in South End Local are celebrating the success of their movement and are ready for a great holiday season.
“The community has really come together and rallied around its businesses,” said Sofi Madison of Olives & Grace. “We have come together as a business community and we are seeing a real unification of businesses here. We launched our website and we’re just trying to stay in our lane and talk about businesses in the community. It’s not like the emergency it was for us now. We’re at a point where we’re really trying to step it up.
“It’s just created this amazing ecosystem where the pieces were in place, but someone needed to put it all together,” she continued. “We’re just now seeing it happen and that’s exciting.”
That was echoed by Megan Flynn of M.Flynn jewelry boutique, who recalled the first South End Holiday Stroll in 2009, when a monster storm hit and spoiled the event. However, the event persisted and this year is stronger than ever, following the trend for South End Local. She said the event will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 5, from 4 p.m. to around 9 p.m.
“It should be a really good event,” she said. “When we first started the stroll, we did it because it was a good time, but we soon realize one of our strengths in this neighborhood is our businesses and our restaurants. Many of our shoppers also go to dinner and we’ve aligned with many of the restaurants in the South End for the stroll.”
Some of the restaurants that have special offers associated with the stroll include the South End Buttery, B + G Oysters, The Gallows, Butcher Shop, the entire Aquitaine Group, Myers + Chang, Stella and SRV – among others.
However even before the stroll, businesses are starting to ramp up this weekend, on Saturday, Nov. 24, for Small Business Saturday.
Madison said the South End is one of the best places for shoppers to come and experience the kind of business where the owner is behind the counter. Many of the businesses are locally owned and there is a strong concentration of women-owned businesses as well.
“This is the most densely populated local retail area in the city,” she said. “There are more female-owned businesses than any other neighborhood. The South End is also home to the largest population of art studios and galleries in Boston. It’s a great place to come and shop for so many reasons.”
The South End Holiday Stroll on Dec. 5 will feature free parking by GTI Properties at 540 Harrison Ave. Check their Instagram account (@Southendlocal) for more and more updates.