BANGOR, Maine — Downtown Bangor threw its doors open Wednesday evening for a mix of after-hours networking opportunities — served up with a side of discounts, deals and and refreshments.
As part of Fusion Bangor’s Downtown Proud Open House, several downtown merchants who usually close by 5 or 6 p.m. stayed open until 7 p.m., allowing those with 9-to-5 work schedules and others to take advantage of what downtown has to offer.
Jessie Logan, Fusion Bangor’s chairwoman, said the Downtown Proud event is a new community action initiative for the group, which organized it as a way to support local business and provide networking opportunities for Fusion members and whoever else decided to turn out.
Matthew McLaughlin, also a Fusion member, said the idea is to connect the group’s membership of about 400 young adults to the community as a whole. He said 21 businesses signed on for the event, which Fusion hopes to bring to other cities and towns in the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce’s service area.
Logan said that if interest warrants, the downtown Bangor open house could become a quarterly event.
Among those who turned up downtown Wednesday evening were Sarah and Richard Reinhart of Hampden and their 2-year-old son, Henry.
“We’re here because Fusion was doing this and we’re members,” Sarah Reinhart said during a stop at Giacomo’s at 1 Central St., a downtown eatery featuring specialty coffees, sandwiches, wine and beer.
She said that while downtown, the family planned to hit the Briar Patch, the Rock & Art Shop and a few other venues.
Also downtown during the event were Serena Dunroe and Jakob Grey-Purvis, both 14 and from Bangor. The two said they are fans of downtown Bangor and its atmosphere.
Grey-Purvis said he hopes one day to live in one of the “really cool” apartments that have become available in the downtown in recent years.
Dunroe said she likes to browse the shops while visiting her grandmother, who lives in the Bangor House near the intersection of Main and Union streets.
“I love that fact that you can walk to so many places,” Dunroe said.
Amanda Sohns, co-owner of the Rock & Art Shop, said the turnout wasn’t huge but added, “It’s nice to see people out [on a weekday evening]. The more we can do to bring people downtown the better.
Rick Vigue of Rebecca’s, a longtime downtown gift shop, said his store stays open until 6 p.m. for the convenience of those who work weekdays, so the extra hour of business wasn’t too big a deal.
He said, however, that events such as the open house could help show young adults the downtown experience their parents and grandparents reminisce about — when downtown was the place for young and old to gather for shopping and socializing.
“It’s really about re-educating the young people,” he said.