Flashback to Friday: Downtown businesses give locals a taste of future Waco First Fridays

"Falling for Waco" First Fridays partner with downtown businesses and restaurants to offer locals extended business hours and special deals. Liesje Powers | Multimedia Editor

Jennifer Smith | Reporter

Waco’s First Friday is a fun and creative way for local downtown businesses to gain exposure. Last Friday the theme was “Falling for Waco,” as 24 shops extended their hours and had special offers for visitors.

Downtown was bustling with people checking out the shops and stops participating in First Friday. One of those stops was the historic Waco Hippodrome, which has been participating in First Friday for nine months.

The Hippodrome offers themed trivia in its upstairs dining area. The theme last Friday was Beatles trivia, to coincide with the performance that night in the theater, the Yesterday Beatles Trivia.

The Hippodrome’s First Friday trivia is free and works on a first-come, first-served basis. Event coordinator Dawn Kostohryz said it has been a full house every time.

“The first time we hosted trivia in the bar area was around the new year. We completely packed the place, so the next time we had to expand and prepare for that type of turnout,” Kostohryz said.

Another stop on the First Friday map was Waco 52, a pop-up art gallery showcasing a variety of art and artists. Art lovers filled the gallery and admired the work of local artists while enjoying finger food. Working in-house was Samuel Burr, an artist who primarily works with watercolors.

“The amount of people that pass through the event and the exposure that it brings to your art is tremendous,” Burr said. “People talk about it and tell their friends, which is very helpful.”

Hey Sugar, a downtown candy shop, has also gained exposure since it started participating in First Friday last May. Jackie Castro, the shop’s supervisor, said the local people have been very supportive and the turnout has been great.

“People really love our ice cream, so much they keep coming back even after First Friday. So it’s fun to see familiar faces because of this event,” said Castro.

The local businessmen and businesswomen of Waco have worked hard to bring more recognition to small businesses, local art and the charm of Waco’s historic downtown. Kostohryz, Burr and Castro agree that First Friday has brought publicity and support to their businesses in a positive way.

Not only does Waco’s First Friday give attention to local businesses, but it also expands clientele. Georgetown senior Jonna Hardy said she worked almost every First Friday last year for Christi’s Interiors, a home decorating store.

“It’s great because it increases foot traffic,” Hardy said. “The more people you have in your store, the more likely you are to make a sale, so First Friday really helps in that aspect.”

First Friday offers something for all ages and interests. With a variety ranging from Steel City Pops to Balcones Whiskey Distillery, there is something for everyone on the list of 24 stops and shops.

The next two dates for the “Falling for Waco” First Friday theme is Oct. 6 and Nov. 3.

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