Hearts fill the windows of shuttered businesses in downtown Chambersburg. In case you drive through the downtown district and are wondering what’s going on, here’s the scoop.
While many of their doors are closed, the windows of businesses in downtown Chambersburg are brimming with hope for the day they can welcome patrons inside once again.
Hearts of various sizes, colors and materials are on view at places like Black & Blush Boutique, Chambersburg Council for the Arts, Lotus Moon Gallery and Yoga, The Foundry and The Garage Studios. Beam Graphix Custom Print Co., Denim Coffee, Here’s Looking at You and the Boost Mobile store downtown are working on their displays.
People of all ages sheltering at home during the coronavirus pandemic are putting their scissors and creativity to work to create the decorations.
Downtown Business Council Coordinator Andrea “Andi” Finch said the window exhibits are a sign of support for and solidarity between downtown shops.
They add some heart to the Downtown Strong theme, which continues through May.
“Putting handmade hearts and a sign in our window felt like sending the people of Chambersburg a love letter“
….. Tarryne West
A fundraising campaign — part of the Downtown Strong movement — features the sale of apparel, tumblers and mugs. Part of the proceeds are used for gift cards to downtown businesses. Those cards are then donated to WellSpan Health and Keystone Health employees in appreciation for their work during the coronavirus crisis. The cards can be used when businesses reopen.
‘We will be back’
“That’s giving an outward appearance of hope. That’s giving an outward appearance that we will be back in some way,” Downtown Chambersburg President Sam Thrush, said.
He said they send an important message: “We rely on each other. We try to take care of each other as a family.”
Finch is using part of the salvage supply of leftovers from art projects given to The Foundry, a co-op for which she serves as the artist coordinator, to make hearts of various hues and heights. Other artists, business owners and members of the community have been given carte blanche on sizes, colors and materials. The loving displays vary based on how many hearts businesses want and how much window space they can spare.
Some of the love symbols were drawn on windows with white markers suitable for glass. Drawing them on sidewalks with chalk has also been discussed.
“We’re developing it as we go,” Finch said. “By the time we are open, our windows will be full of hearts.”
Tarryne West raided her personal supply of paper and card stock to make hearts for display at 103 N. Main St., home of the Council for the Arts – Chambersburg, where she is creative coordinator.
‘Showing the community we miss them’
“Since the council can’t be open at all, we wanted a way to show the community that we miss them and that they are what drives us,” West said. “The collective experience that we are living through is showing us the importance of local connection and community.”
West thinks the campaign not only shows solidarity between all the small business that make up downtown Chambersburg, but is also as a vital reminder to the people of Chambersburg that downtown is their community.
“We so easily get caught up in a kind of anonymous global and online life that offers us a superficial and unfulfilling sense of connection, that we lose sight of who is actually our tribe, our community: the people right here on our doorstep,” she said.
On display at The Garage Studios is a large wooden heart made by Tom Davis, the business‘ owner at 102 S. Main St. with his wife, Jennifer. The heart is flexing its muscles and exclaiming, “We can do it!” Jennifer is creating a large banner to add to their display of love symbols made of paint and paper.
“Right now, building up positivity and support for small businesses is very important,” Jennifer Davis said. “Our downtown organizations are working hard to support us and keep a focus on our needs. The gift certificate program and the Downtown Strong campaign are excellent examples.”
Community members are invited to add their own hearts to the multibusiness exhibit. They can be dropped off in the mailbox at The Foundry, 100 S. Main St. The Council for the Arts reserved its largest window for artistic hearts that people would like to share. The Council plans to post the images on social media, as well.
Facebook Live stroll down Main Street
To ensure that many people get a chance to see the hearts blanketing business windows and doors, Finch led an inaugural virtual First Friday on May 1. She did a Facebook Live stroll downtown to show off the hearts, stopped by businesses that are allowed to be open and went window shopping at those whose doors are still closed.
Typically, The Foundry, Council for the Arts and DBC hold events on the first Friday of each month to bring the public downtown. The format changed while people are social distancing.
The Facebook Live event can be viewed on DCI’s Facebook page here.
Despite the locked doors at many area shops, products and gift cards are sold online. Curbside pickup is available at some sites. That demonstrates the perseverance that Thrush said is key to successfully resetting after the “whiplash” caused by the pandemic subsides.
“Don’t forget to support all the downtown organizations by engaging with their social media, signing up for newsletters, purchasing online or donating,” West said. “Every single bit of effort, no matter how small, helps.”
‘We miss our customers’
Davis looks forward to traffic flowing again on the streets and in stores.
“We miss our customers and look forward to being there for them again soon,” she said.
For more information about the hearts campaign, email [email protected].
To place an order in support of the Downtown Strong fundraising campaign, go to downtownstrong.itemorder.com.