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Athens inaugural 'Boutique Crawl' making an economic impact downtown

Athens Main Street hosted their inaugural 'Boutique Crawl' bringing in more foot traffic to both new and long-standing stores in downtown Athens.

ATHENS, Ala. — It was a big opportunity to shop small in Athens this weekend as they hosted their first ever "Boutique Crawl."

Where shoppers could walk the downtown square and get some good spring season deals, bringing more foot traffic into both new and long-standing stores, furthering the square's economic impact.

Regina Crawford, the owner of Crawford's Gifts, in downtown Athens shares, "we've had a lot of people in, from out of town and first time shoppers with us, and they have been very impressed with everything going on downtown."

Dana Henry, owner of both Hyatt & Sims Inc. and Cruise Planners Scott and Dana Henry, says, "when you shop local, you're investing in people... And this is an opportunity for us to visit with people who might be new to the area or who maybe don't know your business."

Athens Main Street hosted this inaugural "Boutique Crawl," bringing shoppers from all over to take part in special spring deals from participating stores and a chance to enter a $500 shopping spree.

"We've seen a lot of Easter shopping because Easter is right around the corner. We've got Mother's Day coming up also. So a lot of people are looking, making lists…and we've been wrapping a lot of Easter baskets," Crawford said.

This event has brought new and returning customers to some stores that have been in the square for years, like Crawford's Gifts, who will soon be celebrating 30 years of business.

"Here at Crawford's, we have great gifts for men, women, and children of all ages. And that's what one thing we want to bring to Athens is having variety," Crawford said.

Hyatt & Sims Inc., once a paint store bought in 1979, has since turned into a combined custom framing store and a full-service custom travel agency called Cruise Planners Scott and Dana Henry.

"We have a saying around here that we have been in business so long that if it sits still, we have probably framed it before....A few years ago, my husband and I bought a travel franchise," Henry said.

Just as these long-established stores have changed over the years, so has the city.

"Years ago, Athens closed up at 5:00 at night and we didn't come back to the next morning. And there really wasn't anything going on up here," Henry said.

But with new restaurants and stores coming in and events like this one it gets more people visiting the square.

"This has a huge economic impact, the square area impact has just really risen exponentially in the last few years," Henry said.

And these business owners want to welcome everyone to come and visit, "we really want them to feel at home and relaxed and that their experience with us has been a positive one," Henry said.

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