A group of local women is working to promote shopping local and unite small businesses on South First Street.

Several South First businesses and restaurants are teaming up for the corridor’s First Wednesday Sip & Shop, similar to South Congress Avenue’s First Thursday event, in which businesses stay open late and offer specials the first Wednesday of each month. The event kicks off Feb. 1.

Participating businesses and restaurants include Art for the People, Bloomers and Frocks, Austin Natural Soap, Jack & Lola, Alcomar, Bouldin Creek Café and Dolce Neve. The full list of participating shops and restaurants can be found on the Facebook event page.

Patrons who visit the businesses will be handed an entry form for a $500 gift basket comprised of products and gift certificates. The more businesses the customers visit, the better chance they have of winning.

Leading the charge is Bloomers and Frocks owner Rebekka Adams, who relocated her 5-year-old vintage women’s clothing store to 1628 S. First St. six months ago, and the staff at Art for the People, a gallery that features local artists.

“South First has kind of been overshadowed a little bit by South Congress.”

–Rebekka Adams, Bloomers and Frocks owner

Adams said the goal of the Sip & Shop event is to “keep local businesses … [and] us thriving and keep the local character of Austin.” She said she also wants to highlight the local artists both inside the businesses and outside on the muraled walls.

“South First has kind of been overshadowed a little bit by South Congress,” Adams said, referring to the amount of foot traffic the quirky corridor that runs parallel to South First receives on a daily basis, particularly during the street’s First Thursday event, which has been running for 10 years.

“It’s a totally different vibe,” Deanna Serra, owner of Art for the People, said about South Congress.

The women are encouraging people to walk between South First and South Congress and explore the two neighborhoods.

“We have great sidewalks [on South First]. We have great shaded trees; it’s easy to get around,” Adams said.

And while parking is always a concern when driving in Austin, Adams said many of the South First businesses have parking available behind their storefronts, and some restaurants offer valet services.

The women said they are marketing Sip & Shop through the Facebook event page, online event submissions and their individual email lists.

“I think [the business owners] were just excited for someone to take the lead on it,” Adams said. “We’re really coming together cohesively as a unit now.”

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