‘Tis the season to enjoy shopping, holiday happenings in downtown Downers Grove

Large snowflakes are on display in the window at Sweet Jane, a Downers Grove boutique participating in the Holiday Window Contest sponsored by the Downtown Downers Grove Management Corporation.

’Twas the month of holiday happenings and all along Main Street, windows and gingerbread houses are on display for a festive treat.

The Downtown Downers Grove Management Corporation hosted its Gingerbread House and Holiday Window Contest, among other holiday activities.

This year, 14 businesses participated in the holiday window contest, displaying themed scenes in the downtown Downers Grove shopping district. Thirteen businesses participated in the gingerbread house contest, making elaborate homes out of gingerbread, icing, gumdrops and more.

The contests, along with other holiday events hosted by the Downtown Downers Grove Management Corporation, remind residents to shop local this holiday season and create a sense of community rather than competition among businesses, said Lynda Junge, owner of Greenstar Paperie.

“A rising tide lifts all boats and events like this remind us we all have something unique to offer, so it’s a good opportunity for businesses to support each other and have these connections,” Junge said. “It’s nice knowing we can rely on each other as small business owners and I think Downers Grove is pretty special in that way.”

The window display at Greenstar Paperie, 5226 Main St., features bright and fun colors inspired by “All is Bright,” which is displayed prominently in the window. Junge is participating in both the window decorating contest and the gingerbread contest for the first time and she is not the only business owner getting involved in more than one way.

Amy Brown, who owns Evelyn Jane and Sweet Jane, located at 1008 Curtiss St. and 933 Curtiss St., respectively, has entered both of her businesses in the window decorating contest. Brown has been a business owner in the downtown Downers Grove area for 11 holiday seasons, but this is her first year participating in the window contest.

Like Junge, Brown said her window displays were inspired by the vibe of her stores. The Evelyn Jane window features bold reds and greens. Sweet Jane, which primarily sells baby products, has a more neutral and calm winter display featuring large snowflakes.

“Lots of foot traffic is drawn in from the windows and especially with Sweet Jane we’re a little off the beaten path, so this is a great way to get people to walk down and stop by,” Brown said. “Hopefully, we can draw new customers whether they’ve seen our store before or not.”

Brown said the holiday season in Downers Grove is always one she looks forward to, opening her shop on Sundays from Thanksgiving to Christmas to give shoppers an extra opportunity to stop in. She credits a lot of the downtown foot traffic during the holiday season to the many events and contests put on by the Downtown Management Corporation.

In addition to the two decorating contests, the Downtown Management Corporation coordinates visits with Santa, Merry Madness, which features holiday deals and extended hours across many businesses, and Candy Cane Cash, which aims to reward shoppers for spending locally during the holiday season.

These events, Brown said, draw the attention of shoppers everywhere – not just those from Downers Grove – and that enables small business owners to thrive rather than lose potential customers to big-box retailers.

“It’s so fun to see the smiles on people and how they are just beaming after having just seen Santa or getting off of a sleigh ride,” Brown said. “It’s just such a fun, busy time in Downers Grove and our community is so vibrant so the holidays always feel a little extra special.”