Several businesses in downtown Marblehead have announced that they will stay open later as part of a pilot program to enhance local shopping.
Twenty eight businesses, restaurants and shops on Washington Street and lower Pleasant Street will stay open until at least 7 p.m. every Thursday and Friday from June 27 to September 6.
In addition to extended hours, businesses will be hosting special events, game nights and promotions.
The initiative was spearheaded by Kristen Pollard, co-owner of Mud Puddle Toys on Pleasant Street.
"There's really a strong shop-local presence," Pollard said. "They [residents] want to shop local, but when they come down at 5 o'clock and businesses are closed, they can't."
Pollard rallied local businesses together in January to discuss how to get residents to shop at brick and mortar businesses. The store owners met twice a month up until March.
Along with longer hours, Pollard said that two interns will be coordinating informal live music, trunk shows, food tastings, and Mud Puddle Toys will be hosting a game night every Thursday, among other things.
"It would be really nice to walk to the ice cream store and have someone play music outside," Pollard said. "I was really impressed that most stores were really gung-ho."
Pollard added that she brought the idea to Town Administrator Jeffrey Chelgren, who expressed his full support.
"If it's a matter of trying to create a more vital retail environment it's always worth taking a look at," Chelgren said. "Through trial and error each town finds its own economic vitality. I think that's what's happening here."
Weston Adams, co-owner of Marblehead Outfitters on Washington Street, said that this initiative aims to reinvigorate energy around downtown businesses.
"Like a lot of residential communities it tends to get a little quiet after dinner time," Adams said. "We recognize everybody is busy, but our hope is to open up their mindset of going to brick and mortar shops rather than sitting down at the computer and sending off their money elsewhere.
Adams added that extending business hours is also a way of giving back to the residents that have supported the downtown restaurants and shops.