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Cocoa Crawl takes over Downtown Alpena


Kady Gehrke, the Marketing & Outreach Coordinator for the Alpena Downtown Development Authority

The cold weather didn’t stop local businesses and customers from participating in the Cocoa Crawl in Downtown Alpena Saturday. Kady Gehrke, the Marketing & Outreach Coordinator for the Alpena Downtown Development Authority, said “I believe it actually originally came from Laura Shear, who owns and runs Rusty Petunias. She did one pre–COVID, so there hasn’t been one since COVID, so this is the first time since then, but yeah, so it was super popular. It brought a lot of people downtown to all the businesses, and so I figured why not put on another one.”

The big draw for local businesses in the winter months to have events like the cocoa crawl is to boost low foot traffic, but it also encourages customers to visit a multitude of different businesses and find something they may not find on their usual shopping trips. Gehrke said, “I think it’s good that everybody gets around to every single store. Then for events like this, they get to see stores that they may not normally go into. Maybe they’re off their normal drag of where they normally go to, or the stores that they think are their favorites or the most popular stores for them.” She said, “It’s nice to see them get around all the different stores, and it’s kind of fun to see everybody out and around downtown on a Saturday. Especially with it being cold and wintry, it’s kind of nice to kind of have something that’s bringing people back downtown again.”

Small community businesses working and supporting each other only improve the experience for the customer. By staying united, everyone can gain, and no one gets left behind. Gehrke said, “Our businesses are really great about supporting each other. If they don’t have something in their story, they’ll send it to another store downtown. They prefer that everybody shops local, and at each other’s stores, rather than going online or shopping at the big chain brands and stuff.” She said, “I think that’s something that’s really unique about having so many businesses downtown, because they really truly support each other and they want the whole downtown to succeed, because the whole downtown succeeding means they succeed.”