Small stores fear more financial woes after Rockford announces changes to “Stroll on State”

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Retail stores across the Forest City count on holiday sales to get by. The COVID-19 pandemic has made those transactions even more crucial. We spoke with a few State Street business owners who say they hope the re-imagined stroll can pull off a Christmas miracle.

“It’s kind of our introduction to the Christmas season,” said Doc Slafkosky, the co-owner of J.R. Kortman Center for Design.

Like so many other traditions this year, Stroll on State is continuing the COVID-19 theme of ‘adapt and overcome’

“It’s also just great to have so much activity going on across the street. It’s something that we’ve kind of dreamed about, we’ve been down here for 34 years, so we’re really excited when something like this takes place,” Slafkosky said.

For many Rockford shoppers, Stroll on State wouldn’t be complete without stopping by to take in the art and enjoy a glass of wine at J.R. Kortman Center for Design.

“Because of the situation, they’ve had to redefine it, and you know there’s nothing wrong with that,” the owner added.

What would normally consist of a jam-packed day of festive events and holiday shopping will now be spread out for weeks. Event organizers say stroll events will be expanded through December 24th to promote shopping small.

“This store especially, a good percentage of our business is done in that holiday season, so it’s important for us to keep things running here as smoothly and as safely as possible,” Slafkosky added.

“I appreciate the effort they’re putting into it to do stuff like that, but it’s a night we count on. We really, really desperately need it this year,” said Jen Ralston, the owner of Bath and Body Fusion.

Down the street, Bath and Body Fusion owner Jen Ralston worries if her store can survive the holidays at all.

“We don’t even know what to plan for numbers this year. We’ve had seven really rough months for sales, and these are the months we need to pull off a magical Christmas for our community,” she added.

Shoppers can still look forward to decorated storefronts and holiday sales this year. As for the Kortman Center, the art gallery will open with extended hours for smaller groups.

Click here for the full details on this year’s changes.

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