Walking through downtown Camas on Friday, shops were filled with colored hearts and pink and red decorations. A jar of candy sat inside each store with a note encouraging customers to guess the amount to win a prize. What makes this Friday so special?
The Downtown Camas Association holds a themed event on the first Friday of each month with art shows, contests, shopping discounts and treats from downtown merchants.
February’s First Friday event, called “A Chocolate Affair to Remember,” was a chocolate-themed Valentine’s Day event that encouraged customers to support small businesses and artists in Camas. Attendees had the option to participate virtually Feb. 1-5 or in-person on Feb. 5.
Customers participating virtually navigated businesses’ websites to complete a “passport,” while in-person attendees guessed the amount of candy inside jars in each business. Both “passports” could be uploaded to Facebook with the possibility of winning a gift basket or gift certificate to downtown businesses.
Truly Scrumptious, a bakery owned by Kimberly Koch-Hawk, recently moved to downtown Camas and has participated in a couple First Friday events. Owen Hawk, son of Koch-Hawk and employee at the bakery, stood outside offering customers free heart-shaped cookies. Five customers found a golden ticket randomly placed in their cookie bag which gave them a $10 gift card to the bakery.
“First Friday has helped business a little bit because there are more people out and about during events than on a normal day,” Hawk said.
Since First Friday events bring in more customers, they are important to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Further down the avenue at Attic Gallery, Anna Norris was busy painting a new art piece. Some of her previous creations were showcased in the gallery for art-enthusiasts to view or purchase. Norris paints various subjects such as landscapes, murals and customer’s old photos when commissioned.
Norris said that First Friday events allow her to connect with more customers, which is her favorite part.
“I love meeting new people. That’s why I like to paint,” Norris said. “I like to meet people and answer their questions about my work.”
Norris has had work featured in previous First Fridays and she plans on showcasing more work at future events.
Camas High School students Abby Seth and Audrey Wagner are First Friday frequenters. Wagner said that her favorite thing about First Friday is how imaginative businesses can be since there is a new theme each month.
“At the Halloween First Friday in October, businesses got to carve their own pumpkins and be creative with their decorations,” Seth said.
Upcoming themes are March’s “Go Green,” April’s “Spring into History” and May’s “Gnome and Fairy Gala.”
Future First Friday events can be found on the Downtown Camas Association’s website.
“The best part about First Friday is all the people you meet, all the different people,” Hawk said. “We’re excited to be a part of this community and participate in future events.”