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Downtown State College Businesses Hope for Boost from Holiday Shopping Season

While, for most, this year’s holiday shopping season may not include packed malls and crowded lines, retailers in downtown State College are doing what they can to bring in business safely and still provide an enjoyable holiday shopping experience for locals. 

The holiday shopping season kicks off on Nov. 28 with Small Business Saturday.

Katie Dawes, owner of Kitchen Kaboodle, 104 W. Beaver Ave., highlights the need for downtown retailers to remain vigilant regarding shopper safety this season. 

“We are excited to offer these [Small Business Saturday] specials to our customers,” she says, clarifying, “We want to be very thoughtful on how we promote this holiday season, given the growing concern over COVID-19 spikes. We will continue to be vigilant with cleaning and limiting the number of customers in our store as well as [at] our enter and exit doors.”

Kitchen Kaboodle is offering discounts on a range of products, from cutlery to kitchen gadgets to gifts suitable for the holiday season. 

The Makery, 209 W Calder Way, is likewise participating in next week’s Small Business Saturday, with The Makery Market open 10 a.m.–2 p.m. and offering 10% off purchases, with special precautions. 

“Unfortunately, we can’t do Open Studio activities for children as we have in the past, but we will still have a fun, holiday-themed day,” owner Amy Frank says. 

Many downtown retailers are offering surprise ‘thank you’ gifts with every purchase, including The Makery Market and Three Little Birds Boutique, 220 E. Calder Way, which will have buy one, get one 50% off on everything in the store and a free earring or mask with every purchase.

Other retailers are getting creative, such as The Nittany Quill, 111 S. Fraser St., which is offering afternoon appetizers and beverages to shoppers, and Ethereal boutique, 216 E. College Ave., with its discount raffle. 

The Nittany Quill, 111 S. Fraser St., State College. Photo by Geoff Rushton |

“Shopping local has never been more important,” says Lee Anne Jeffries, marketing and communications director at Downtown State College Improvement District. “Many of our cornerstone downtown businesses have been around for 40, 50 and even 100 years. They are struggling and without the help of the community they will not be around to celebrate another anniversary. 

“Small Businesses Saturday brings awareness to the importance of supporting our local economy, but it should not be limited to one day. As a community, let’s come together and spend our dollars in our town, where we can make a difference by shopping local first.”

Downtown State College Improvement District is certainly making an effort to get shoppers downtown all holiday season long, starting with a now-virtual holiday tree lighting ceremony tonight (Nov. 20) from 6:30–7:30 p.m. The tree lighting will be streamed live on YouTube and will include carolers, a special reveal to launch DSCID’s non-profit tree decorating challenge and a visit from Santa to close the show.

It will also kick off and feature a tour of the in-person Light Up Downtown six-week event. The attraction includes special light and holiday decoration displays scattered around downtown, including a musical, timed lighting show at the Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza on South Fraser Street and decorated trees at the corner of East College Avenue and Locust Lane. 

On select days (Dec. 4, 5, 11 and 12), visitors will also be able to find a free gift-wrapping station and hot cocoa served at MLK Plaza, as well as trolley service between Fraser Street and Locust Lane. Additionally, Downtown State College notes on its website that 9-10 a.m. every Monday and Tuesday through Dec. 22, select downtown businesses will be holding special holiday senior shopping hours.

Downtown State College Improvement District hosts the holiday tree lighting and Small Business Saturday alongside The Happy Valley Adventure Bureau

“Supporting the county’s local businesses has never been more important than it is right now,” says Fritz Smith, The Happy Valley Adventure Bureau’s president and CEO. “The pandemic is threatening the livelihood of many of our small businesses. The next few months will be particularly challenging. Patronage now will go a long way toward helping our shops, restaurants and other businesses weather the economic crisis resulting from the pandemic.”

The Makery Market is located inside The Makery, 209 W. Calder Way, State College. Photo by Geoff Rushton |