Uptown open for business

The holiday season was officially kicked off in Uptown Waterloo with the annual open house organized by the Business Improvement Area (BIA). On Nov. 23 and 24, the event drew people in to the city’s core with performances, hay rides and a chance to see many of the independent businesses in the area, some of which are normally closed in the evening.

Stephanie Longeway, executive assistant for BIA, was present at the event handing out apple cider courtesy of Aroma Café. According to Longeway the open house draws many people to the area each year. “We had quite a few people here [on Wednesday], this whole area was completely full with the performances. All the performances are from the local schools all the way from elementary to high school,” she said.

At the very least, business owners think that the open house is helpful. The owner of Machado Photography, Tiffany Machado, thought the open house created publicity for her store. “This is the first year that we’ve done this and we’ve got quite a bit [of business] and we’ll be able to plan better for next year,” she said.

Debra Joseph, owner of Fab Boutique and Twice Is Nice & Twice The Man, thought it also contributed to the atmosphere of The Atrium, the marketplace housing her businesses and several others on Erb Street. “Everything gets done at the same time. Instead of thinking about your own individual business, you think how can we make this a great event all together,” she said.

“It is a novelty for the hours,” expressed June Bouwman, owner of Aroma Café.
“I’m not usually open in the evening, so it is a novelty for the customers to come through in the evening that are regulars and experience and have that opportunity.

Hopefully it will bring new people in that might only be able to come out after work,” she continued.

Providing more than publicity to the Uptown businesses, the open house also contributes to the atmosphere of the area.

Longeway explained, “Having a vibrant uptown or downtown always adds to the culture. When you have places that are thriving, [such as] businesses, and you have your unique independent stores you don’t really get out at the malls or the suburbs it kind of offers a really good mix. It’s a little bit of something for everybody.”

According to Longeway, “That’s what we really hope to do. People think about [the open house] and people think Uptown Waterloo.”