Happy holidays from downtown Oly


Sam Warjone

An event passport is lit by lights on a tree.

Starting November 25th, sixty-five local businesses partnered with the Olympia Downtown Alliance for a Love Oly Shop and Dine event that will run until December 24th.

In an interview with Dean Jones, owner of Encore Teas and Encore Chocolates, he explains the event. “It goes on for the whole month. People can come down and shop at different stores, and [they get] this little card.” Referring to the specifics of the event he says, “If they get five stickers on the card then they get a piece of swag. This year it happens to be a really neat silicone glass [or] a candle or a pair of socks.” “Their name [also] goes in a drawing for multiple gift certificates. We get many of the businesses involved in [the shop and dine event] to contribute a gift certificate so people can win one.”

According to Todd Cutts, executive director of the Olympia Downtown Alliance, “the first time, [in] the fall of 2020, we were trying to figure out a way where our community could engage with the downtown, but kind of at their own pace and at their own comfort level, obviously the fall of 2020 we were right in the heart of the pandemic so we couldn’t hold events that brought thousands of people all in the same space, and this was a way over a week where people could you know mask up, come downtown, shop at their own pace, but still support downtown businesses.”

The shop and dine event has only been running for a few years, but ‘downtown for the holidays’ is not a new concept. Janis Dean, owner of The Popinjay, says she has been involved with Downtown for the Holidays “basically from the beginning.” She elaborates that, “in the 80’s, we kind of re-invented that downtown for the holidays. And at that point, I was actually vice president of the ODA [Olympia Downtown Association] and we did a lot of things for the community. […] We had the holiday parade and things like that. And the holiday parade will come back, probably next year.” “We had horse-drawn wagon[s] and we raised food for the food bank and money for the food bank doing that. So that was kind of how it started. And you know everything sort of changes and goes along a winding road and I’m really happy with the way it’s turned out.”

Dean Jones, speaking for Encore, says, “our involvement in it is because we love downtown. We’ve been down here for quite a few years and we’ll continue to be here and we’ll continue to support anything the downtown alliance does.”

At the end of her interview, Janis Dean reflected, “I just want the consumer to know that these events are done with them in mind. And it’s not just a moneymaking event, it’s a spirit-raising [event] for the community.”

Check out downtown this month, see the lights, do some Christmas shopping, and support our local businesses!