By Emilie McQueen, Staff Writer
Published in print Sept.10, 2014
Belly dancing, live music, antiques, public picnics and Tai-Chi were all activities included in downtown Greensboro’s monthly open house.
First Friday is a free monthly self-guided walking tour that features Greensboro’s diverse shops, art galleries, studios, museums and alternative art venues.
Shops that wish to participate in the event keep their doors open from six to nine on the first Friday of every month with free arts programming to showcase local artists, musicians and others who have artistic goodies to share with the public.
One of the most unique aspects of the whole first Friday production is the conglomeration of individual markets that are present downtown and come from all over the area to share their goods with locals.
They set up tents right across from the train tracks, and even when it’s raining, it seems that people find it worth weathering the storm to search for sweet treats. The indie marts range from homemade jewelry to homemade baked goods and even pillows, blankets and other home goods.
“I feel as though first Friday has grown in comparison to other years and that the event brings a lot more people downtown and ultimately more involved in the community,” said Greensboro local, Cara Oakes.
A mother and daughter team, Sibyl and Tanya Davis came downtown from High Point to give out some of their delicious pound cake at the last first Friday.
They own an at-home bakery, Savor the Moment and they were willing to let people have their cake, and eat it too, as they kindly offered free samples to anyone who walked by.
Although the ladies have only participated in first Friday for the past couple years, they have found that it has already increased their exposure.
“We both have found first Friday to increase the number of people who contact us personally because we make connections with locals in Greensboro that we wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity to do so with,” said Mrs. Davis.
For those who want to take advantage of getting to know the local shops, first Friday is also a great opportunity to check out downtown’s booming shopping district. Handmade upcycled vintage clothing and accessories or one-of-a-kind lotions, books and trinkets are all available in eclectic shops all around downtown. With doors staying open later than usual, it’s a great chance to look for something rare while exploring downtown.
Sarah Margaret, the store owner of Just Be, a specialty boutique selling handmade crafts from local artists, has participated in first Friday for the past nine years.
She claims that it is usually one of the liveliest nights of the month. Not only does she get to personally connect with many more customers, but the 60 local artists that the store features also get to connect with the people who are buying their products.
“A lot of people come downtown to eat, not shop,” said Margaret. “So first Friday is a chance for people to be drawn to the shopping scene and come into our stores late at night and increase our exposure as well.”
As the night reaches an end, most people make their way to grab a bite to eat after working up an appetite from walking around so much.
Beside the Carolina Theatre, an array of food trucks are parked and full of delectable items to satisfy anyone and everyone’s hunger.
There are various options available for all taste buds including a taco truck, Korean food, Barbeque, Louisiana cuisine, French baguettes and an ice cream truck for dessert. Also, one could eat inside the theatre and enjoy the comfy red seats and entertainment provided while munching on one’s food of choice.
Inevitably, first Friday is an awesome outing for college students, locals and visitors.
“I come from a very small town and it was so nice to experience something like first Friday,” said Courtni Woznicki, commenting on her recent experiences this past Friday. “Greensboro has so much more to offer than I was even aware of and I really felt connected to the locals after coming out.”
Whether downtown sparks an interest for everyone or not, there is truly a lot to see. The upcoming First Fridays are September 5, October 3, November 7, and December 5.