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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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First Friday looks to flourish locally owned businesses

The+LaSalle+Hotel+in+Bryan%2C+TX.
Photo courtesy of Cameron LePori

The LaSalle Hotel in Bryan, TX.

Between college students rolling into town for the fall semester and Aggie football kicking off on Saturday, Sept. 3, there is one fun-filled evening in between for people of all ages. From live music performances to art demonstrations and interactive events, First Friday in Downtown Bryan focuses on all things art to spotlight the historic district that is just 15 minutes from Texas A&M’s campus. 

This month’s First Friday, on Sept. 2, will bring together Aggies, locals and regional visitors while boosting local businesses, according to Destination Bryan organizers. The monthly event has revitalized downtown by staying local for dining, shopping, going to the theater, looking at classic cars or hands-on art activities.

With South Main closed to traffic, the family-owned businesses that line Main and 26th Street stay open late to serve the 3,000-5,000 come-and-go First Friday visitors, said Christopher Ortegon, the special events coordinator with Destination Bryan. 

“When you go to a family owned restaurant or family owned coffee shop or family owned business, it feels more personal when you go in to help them with business,” Ortegon said.

While some may not look forward to the crowds of people, other business owners and employees said First Friday is key to their success.

“I haven’t gotten to experience the customer side because it is hard to leave the counter,” Chrissy Sayers said, co-owner and manager of Bird’s Nest Gifts and Antiques. “[But] First Friday definitely helps local family owned businesses. In the beginning, First Friday alone could help pay the bills for the month.”

Amanda Kile, tourism events coordinator for Destination Bryan, said the recurring event has boosted the quality of life for the surrounding community in its 17-year history. Originally started by Greta Watkins, founder of The Frame Gallery, to support and grow local artists and her gallery, First Friday today is a celebration of local culture and tourism, said Kile, Class of 2015. 

Businesses on and around Downtown Main Street will have extended hours typically from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. during the event. Destination Bryan will shut down Main Street and 26th Street for vendors to safely enjoy the event. The Roy Kelly parking garage is available for a $5 parking fee, and Destination Bryan provides a shuttle system from the Blinn College parking lot from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. for First Friday visitors. More details about First Friday can be found at the Destination Bryan website. 

The community it takes to put on First Friday is the key to fostering the larger feeling of being part of a community, Ortegon said.

“It is a great opportunity to, one, try something local, try something unique to our area that you can’t find somewhere else, and also come down here and have fun,” Ortegon said. “Even though Bryan-College Station might feel very separate, it is one big community.”

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  • The String & Horn Shop in Bryan, TX.

    Photo courtesy of Kalin Kerr
  • The view of South Main Street in Bryan, TX.

    Photo courtesy of Emily Godsey
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