JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (WJHL) – It’s commonly known as “Tennessee’s Oldest Town,” but with new businesses and events held frequently, nothing really feels old about it.
Downtown Jonesborough is home to a number of small businesses and shops, a majority of which can be found right on Main Street with a few branching off onto side streets.
The entire downtown is quite charming and incredibly walkable, a feature that’s being capitalized on during the times of COVID-19.
Shopping and going out to eat, especially in smaller, locally run businesses have taken a hit since the start of the pandemic.
Many businesses have had to make adjustments during this time, including Downtown Sweet, a bakery that has been in Downtown Jonesborough for a little over three years.
Recently, Downtown Sweet changed locations on Main Street and is now located in a more visible storefront with more seating according to owner Bethany Oakes.
Along with adapting to the pandemic and changing locations, they’ve also rebranded in a way by adding lunch. People can now get sandwiches and salads along with their tasty treats and beverages.
While the pandemic has been difficult for these local shops, Oakes told News Channel 11’s Kelly Grosfield that the community support has been overwhelming.
“We have definitely felt the support of a lot of people that have come through here, and I think that when you are a sole proprietor or even a partner, then people get to actually know you and not just your business,” said Oakes.
Oakes also credits some new business to “Downtown at Dusk” an event that drives people downtown by offering drinks and snacks in local shops almost like a walking food and drink scavenger hunt.
“You get your wristband, a stemless wine glass, and then you get to go to ten plus beverage shops that are throughout downtown,” said Jonesborough Director of Tourism & Main Street Cameo Waters.
It took place every Friday from 6 to 8 p.m. at a cost of $20. Included was a wine glass, treats and drinks at every stop, and all the proceeds go back to local merchants. It’s a great way to check out local shops and all they have to offer.
“It’s been really good I think to get exposure for a lot of businesses, especially ones that have been really hurt by people staying home,” said Oakes.
“Downtown at Dusk” started the weekend the Storytelling Festival is normally held and has finished for the season. It was designed to highlight these local businesses, and it’s not the only event with that goal in mind.
The Gingerbread Village that began December 4 is a walkable display scattered throughout downtown, consisting of locally made creations.
“The public, professional bakers, kids, and families have all created gingerbread houses. Some are even replicas of downtown buildings and they’re spread throughout downtown in the windows and that’s on display through Christmas,” said Waters.
People will be able to check out the displays through Christmas and can vote for their favorite one online. The top three will be awarded a few days prior to the Christmas holiday.
Officials with downtown said it’s a great way to involve the community safely during these difficult times. Normally they do a gingerbread house workshop but were unable to with COVID-19 so this was the next best thing and certainly the safest.
Downtown Jonesborough merchants encourage everyone to come down, see what they have to offer, and most importantly, shop local during the holidays.
“People have really gotten behind the shop local and support local movement and that’s definitely huge for Jonesborough. Downtown and Main Street merchants are the heartbeat of downtown and that’s what keeps us going,” said Waters.