Winters' Main Street Market Days continues building on success

Bill Hancock
Runnels County Register
The next Main Street Market Days in Winters will be this Saturday, August 14, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Welcome to Winters, an independent group of local business owners in Winters, hosted their first Main Street Market Days in April. The day dawned under an overcast sky with scattered rain showers. Even with that challenge, the day was a success for the business owners, according to Angela New, the owner of Gyspy Threads and Tees, "The first Market Days was kind of rainy, but you still had a lot of vendors and customers show up."

New said that the rain didn't dampen the idea, "I was nervous about the rain and how it would affect the turnout, especially for our vendors that traveled to be here, but everyone came out and supported us in the rain. It ended up being a very successful even. Several vendors stated that it was one of the best events they’ve attended."

The monthly shopping event falls on the 2nd Saturday of each month, with vendors and customers lining both sides of Main Street for 3 or 4 blocks.

As many predicted, the 2nd Market Days was a resounding success. Vendors and customers came from all over, including Abilene and San Angelo, to take part. New said it was better than they envisioned, "The second event was a huge success! We were all super impressed and it was definitely a relief knowing the rain during the first Market Days didn’t hinder our results for future events. It more than exceeded our expectations. We had 46 vendors scheduled, so we knew it was going to be huge, but we ended up having over 60 vendors show up. We were blown away with its growth."

The group of business owners have worked with other groups to build success for everyone in the town, as evidenced by their Market Days event in July. The Winters VFD hosts their annual fundraiser in July, which Market Days was aware of, "The VFD’s fundraiser was held on the 3rd weekend, that’s why we changed weekends. They wanted downtown Winters packed for their fundraiser and asked if we would host Market Days the same weekend as their event. We are a community supporting each other, so without any hesitation we all agreed to reschedule accordingly in order to help our local VFD out with their event. We do not consider Market Days or Welcome to Winters solo entities. Welcome to Winters is a FB page that advertises for local businesses and keeps people up to date with everything happening in Winters. Main Street Market Days is a group of local businesses bringing in vendors, to get the town excited with a monthly event for our community. Market Days and Welcome to Winters want the same things for our town and work really well together to achieve these changes. In all honesty, this is a community effort and I truly believe working together as a community is what is making it so successful. We’ve had repeat vendors that have been with us since the first Market Days and they have been so wonderful with offering ideas and helping with the planning of these events. Even though they don’t live here, they have definitely become a part of our community.

Welcome to Winters has flourished since that first event in April, "Everyone all the way around has been wonderful! We are constantly complimented on our events and how great it is seeing so many people in downtown Winters again. I am so pleased with how well Market Days has been supported by everyone."

The initiative is helping to revitalize an area hit hard by the economy over the last few years, including an air conditioning manufacturer moving their plant from Winters to Mexico. New says that the success of Market Days is helping bring more businesses to the downtown area, "I purchased and am remodeling one of the buildings downtown for my business. A few buildings down from mine are also being remodeled and I’ve heard  plans on opening an Italian Restaurant there. I would like to think that Market Days has influenced some to open a business here. It definitely played a big role in my decision to purchase a building downtown. The potential is definitely here and I believe others are noticing that. It takes a community to build a community and we are all working together so well to make significant changes for our small town.

Many of the buildings along Main Street in Winters have been boarded up and vacant for several years. A few of the buildings have been dotted with broken windows and fallen into disrepair. Market Days is influencing a change in the downtown landscape that is growing in popularity, "Market Days has reinvigorated and revitalized our town. This is something that Winters desperately needed. We have so many vacant buildings, buildings being used as storage etc., but that is slowly changing."

New and the other business owners share credit for the success of the shopping initiative, "I give credit to our local business owners, including our restaurant. They advertise Market Days and run specials during he events. Our community has really showed up for us. They come out and shop, share our event dates on social media, and even send vendors to us. Our vendors are amazing. They show up, they help advertise on social media, they offer ideas in planning, etc. The Welcome To Winters group is so supportive of Market Days, they are so quick to advertise our events and our vendors. They are so quick to get out there and spread the word for us. They play a huge role in our success. The City of Winters Street Dept is amazing. They make sure all of our electrical outlets downtown are working, they keep the waste baskets empty for our events, they come down and support us during events and help spread word for us too. The church lends us their parking lot to hold our food truck vendors and other vendors. The list really goes on and on. So many play significant roles in making this so successful.

According to New, the leadership of both Welcome to Winters and Market Days saw a need, and filled it, "Welcome to Winters and Main Street Market Days are separate entities from the Chamber of Commerce. There is no question about the fact that Welcome to Winters and Market Days have had incredible success. This was 'We're Welcome to Winters & Market Days,' and we're gonna do this for our town. We had an idea. Now we have a plan. Now we have executed it."

The sense of community is strong in both Welcome to Winters and Market Days. It's an idea, a vision that needed the right people doing the right things to make it happen. That all came together when businesses decided to band together for the good of everyone, "It has made a huge difference getting all business owners involved, working together, and supporting each other. We are so blessed to live in a community where we can all work together and support one another. Having Market Days hosted by local businesses instead of an organization brings more love to it, if that makes sense? We are business owners and we all want the same things for our town and for our businesses, and that’s to be successful! Our love for our town, community, and for our businesses is what drives us to continue doing our parts individually and as a team so that every business can be successful and every business gets the attention it needs."

The next Market Days will be this Saturday, August 14. Vendors come from as far away as Midland and Odessa. You can find everything from clothing and fresh produce to jewelry, designer clothes, home decor, and much, more.

For more information, you can check out the Facebook group, Welcome to Winters.