Newton Chamber announces plans to make Ridiculous Day ‘new and improved’
At Mattingly Music and Books on Newton’s downtown square Thursday, Paul Mattingly took a coin and examined it under a bright lamp and magnifying glass.
“Looks like these are just at face value,” he said to the customer waiting for an appraisal of the item.
It was relatively quiet in the book and musical instrument store, with a few people trickling in and out before the end of the workday. In the past, this would have been a busy time for Mattingly, preparing for the July 21 Ridiculous Day. Years ago, Mattingly and store staff would be preparing promotions and ordering special merchandise specifically for a day that is meant to celebrate retail shopping in Newton’s downtown district.
“Ridiculous Day is ... unless they do something to bring people downtown, there’s nothing left,” Mattingly said. “We will be having stuff out there, but it’s almost pointless. Thirty years ago, you could not walk across the street to the courthouse. Starting at 6:30 a.m. it was packed.”
Mattingly remembers a day when there were more retailers on the square, including JC Penney and Woolworth’s. But he knows that there are things the city and the Newton Chamber of Commerce can do to reignite the day.
This year, the Chamber is trying to break the downward sales trend and make Ridiculous Day more, well, ridiculous.
Officials at the Chamber are calling this year’s day of discounted shopping “new and improved.” With plans for a Show and Shine Car Show from 3 to 6 p.m. and invitations extended to any vendor or nonprofit organizations that want to set up shop around the square, Chamber Executive Director Darrell Sarmento said the business community is trying to give Newtonians a reason to come downtown and make a day of it.
“What we’re trying to do is give several reasons to stay in Newton Saturday, explore downtown and shop and make it a community day,” he said. “It gives other vendors another chance to be downtown as well.”
Doug Woodford is new to the downtown business community, purchasing Brown’s Shoe Fit Company six months ago. He also has heard the Ridiculous Day is not what it used to be, but he is optimistic.
“We’re going to have a big variety with cheaper prices, and give people a reason to come down to the square and shop,” he said.
Sarmento said outside vendors are still trickling in, but businesses that have officially signed on for the event include the Iowa Speedway and a vendor that sells Pampered Chef and Tastefully Simple products.
The outside vendors will be selling merchandise from 7 a.m. through 2 p.m., and Sarmento said that any vendor selling food will be allowed to stay through the car show, but must have proof of insurance to participate.
The car show will be displayed on the North and West side of the square, and no registration is needed to show off a spruced-up ride.
Mike Mendenhall can be contacted at (641) 792-3121 ext. 422 or via email at email@example.com.
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