Urbana merchants host 3-day Be My Valentine shop local event

It might be cold outside, but the Urbana Downtown Merchants Association has just the event to warm your heart.

The second annual Be My Valentine retail and eatery event runs Feb. 11-13 in the heart of downtown Urbana’s Monument Square District.

“A lot of events have been canceled because it is challenging for people to maintain that social distance,” says Tina Knotts, owner of the Let’s Eat Cake bakery in downtown Urbana. “I think people are really craving getting out into the community and having interaction. They love to support local.”

Knotts, who also serves as president of the Urbana Downtown Merchants Association, says the area has been fortunate despite the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our businesses did pretty well,” she says. “For us the top priority has been safety for customers and staff. Stores have been really good with guidelines from the health department.”

Each downtown shop participating in Be My Valentine will offer clients a promotion unique to their business. Let’s Eat Cake, for example, will present patrons with a Valentine and a coupon for a free cupcake good through March 15.

Urbana features more than 26 locally-owned businesses in the historic district, of which 16 are participating in the Be My Valentine event, Knotts says.

“(Urbana) shop owners and patrons embrace the sense of community,” she says. “We all feel like we’ve had to put life on hold a little bit, so this is an opportunity to get out support local business and be aware of what’s in your back yard.”

The event is spread over three days allowing plenty of time for shopping and dining safely, Knotts says.

“Every time you make a purchase you can enter to win the Grand Prize,” she says.

That Grand Prize package includes one overnight stay for two at the Scioto Inn, flowers, movie tickets for two, and a gift certificate from each retailer participating in the Be My Valentine event. The prize is valued at more than $350.

The Urbana Downtown Merchant Group was formed about three years ago by several local Urbana businesses to collaborate on events and to provide a stronger local message. The organization's mission is to market downtown Urbana by creating a positive retail experience.

“It’s easy to postpone or cancel events under the (pandemic) circumstances, but there are so many people that want to get out and celebrate local,” Knotts says. “What better day to spread a little love than Valentine’s Day?”

Participating Be My Valentine retailers include:

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Read more articles by Darci Jordan.