In 2012 Dover Main Street issued a call to residents in the area to support the City of Dover’s downtown merchants by shopping for gifts at local businesses first during the holiday season through a campaign called Discover Dover. Dover Main Street partnered with Seacoast Local to spread the message that shopping local keeps more money in the local economy, and supports the businesses that reinvest in the City and that are the backbone of a thriving Main Street community. The organizations created a website www.discoverdover.com to highlight everything going on in Downtown Dover throughout the holidays.
The Discover Dover Campaign kicked off on Plaid Friday, November 23rd, with Santa making a very grand arrival from the Dover Fire Station into downtown Dover at the Mill Courtyard, with the whole merchant community on the streets decked out in plaid. Plaid Friday is the nationally recognized celebration of the diversity and creativity of independent businesses, sponsored regionally by Seacoast Local, and promoted in communities across the country as the alternative to the big box store “Black Friday”.
Dover Main Street hosted a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony at Santa’s Workshop when he arrived on Plaid Friday, and Dover Main Street invited the community to come out, in plaid attire or scarves, to attend. Cocoa from Kelley’s Row, holiday music, photos with Santa, Mrs. Claus, & Holly, and visits with the Dover Mounted Police Unit- all donning plaid for the occasion- were part of the celebration. The Workshop, a former mainstay of Dover holiday decor, was lovingly restored by volunteers after many years in storage and suffering damage by vandals, and was back in the courtyard for the entire holiday season in its full nostalgic glory.
Throughout the season, the Discover Dover campaign offered promotions featuring unique gift ideas, a Discover Dover Shop Local holiday float sponsored by Federal Savings Bank and Ross Furniture, with Shift Your Shopping re-usable tote bags filled with discount give-aways for local businesses distributed from the float, downtown events coordinated with the City and the Chamber, a Great Holiday Giveaway contest sponsored by Dover Main Street’s participating merchants, Santa visits at downtown businesses, and more. Dover Main Street Board Member, Erik Roy of Ross Furniture, sponsored Discover Dover announcements on The Bay Radio. The campaign drew many to visit, shop, and eat in the downtown throughout the season.