Vibrancy and energy pulses through Franklin’s downtown district.

Shoppers wander in and out of clothing boutiques, vintage stores, home decor shops and more. Eateries are packed, while a steady stream of customers cycle through the coffee shops and cafes.

People come for movies or bowling, or stick around for weekend festivals or evening concerts.

“We have a really good variety of shops, compared to other places where everything is kind of the same. A lot of the shops have the shop owners in there working, which helps to created a sense of community,” said Christina Fletcher, owner of Possibilities: Home Re-Imagined.

Local business owners and officials want to make it easier for more people to experience all downtown Franklin has to offer. Nearly 30 boutiques, restaurants and other retailers are teaming up for a special shopping event, Shop the Blocks, on Thursday.

“Hopefully, it can become a somewhat regular thing,” said Jess Giles, executive of Discover Downtown Franklin. “Different people may not be able to shop because of work, now they can be in the downtown area.”

Participating businesses will stay open late for customers, adding special offers and deals, and providing other treats during the into-the-night experience.

Banding together and working as a team to spark sales emphasizes how unique and special Franklin’s downtown business community is.

“A rising tide lifts all ships. It’s been a weird year, so this is a way we can come together for shop owners,” said Fletcher, who is organizing the event.

Shop the Blocks is the most recent example of downtown businesses banding together to spark sales and reach new customers. Events such as the Holiday Open House and Shop Small Saturday have focused on bringing people in to shop, enticed by special deals and potential giveaways.

Discover Downtown Franklin and other local officials recently met with Indiana Main Street, an organization focused on helping downtowns revitalize. One of their key suggestions was for businesses to offer expanded, later hours, Giles said.

“People are wanting to shop either on Mondays or in the evening. Before we were even able to send out the results of that discussion, Christina had already come up with the idea and voiced it to other active merchants in town,” she said.

Fletcher, who moved Possibilities into its new home earlier in 2023, had done similar events with like-minded shops in the past. Their new location at 100 E. Jefferson St. linked the grouping of vintage stores and boutiques on either end of Jefferson Street, serving as a bridge for shoppers.

“When we first opened up here, the city and the chamber (of commerce) were excited because it was a connector, but what comes with that is people weren’t used to shopping here,” Fletcher said. “I thought this was a way to get the word out that we’re here, and working with other business owners to get more people downtown.”

Quickly, a large number of other businesses signed up. With Franklin becoming a destination for trendy stores selling home decor, repurposed furniture, vintage decorations and more, they hoped to take advantage of the extended hours.

“A lot of the shops close so early, so people can’t go shopping even though they want to,” Fletcher said.

But a diverse range of businesses also wanted to be part of Shop the Blocks. Eateries such as Millie’s Ice Cream Co., Frozen Paradise, Court Street Cafe, Benjamin’s Coffeehouse & Bakeshop, The Local Grind, 1823 Bakehouse and Hoosier Cupboard Candy, Snacks and Ice Cream will give shoppers a taste of what Franklin has to offer.

People can pick up something to read at Wild Geese Bookshop, fabric art supplies at the Knitting Otter and a new candle at Middle Davids Artisan Candles.

Even kids can find something fun, as Toodleydoo Toys is taking part as well.

To entice people to Shop the Blocks, each place will have unique offerings showcasing what makes them special. Some plan out wine sampling for people while they shop; others serve appetizers or other finger food.

Possibilities will have its one-of-a-kind tasting bar available, allowing people to sample different olive oils and balsamic vinegars.

“I didn’t want it to be too structured. I wanted them to be able to do their thing, and allow customers to experience those shops for who they are, not a construct put up around it,” Fletcher said.

One-day-only sales and deals will also be available.

Fletcher is optimistic that the event will be popular with the community, enough so that participating businesses, and others who want to be a part of it, are interested in additional Shop the Blocks.

“Other communities have First Fridays and things like that, so we want to turn it into a monthly event,” she said.


Shop the Blocks

What: Nearly 30 local shops and restaurants extend their hours for an evening of unique shopping and dining experiences. The event is designed to stimulate local economy, encourage community members to support local businesses, and provide an exciting and vibrant atmosphere for attendees.

When: 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday

Where: Various downtown Franklin businesses

Participating businesses: FrenChic, Farm Girl Mercantile, Salvage Sisters’ Antique Market, Bay 7 Vintage, Possibilities: Home Re-Imagined, The Grove – Botany Boutique, Toodleydoo Toys, Franklin Jewelers, Eclectic Jade, Small Town Girl Boutique, Vintage Whimsy, Blackbird Design is At Home With Heartland, At Home With Heartland, Middle Davids Candles, Wild Geese Bookshop, Millie’s Ice Cream Co., Frozen Paradise, Court Street Cafe, Benjamin’s Coffeehouse & Bakeshop, T-Shirt Express, Thanks for The Thyme, The Local Grind, Brick Street Boutique, The Knitting Otter, BYTAVI, 1823 Bakehouse, Hoosier Cupboard Candy, Snacks and Ice Cream, Madison Street Salvage