Things are hoppin’ in downtown London

The Easter bunny waves to pedestrians and commuters outside the London State Theater during the 1811 Downtown District’s Bunny Hop Shop Hop on March 21.

(Posted March 26, 2024)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

A couple of friends check out the food truck menus. Someone points out a new shop they love. A family, appearing to span three generations, walks down the sidewalk hand-in-hand-in-hand.

Such was the scene the evening of March 21 as the Bunny Hop Shop Hop got under way in downtown London. Merchants stayed open late and offered specials. The Easter bunny waved from outside the movie theater.

This lively, friendly atmosphere and celebration of small businesses is what London’s 1811 Downtown District strives to achieve with every shop hop and special event they put on.

“Our goal is to create a vibrant business environment in downtown London with historical flair,” said David Mars, 1811 Downtown District president.

The non-profit organization formed in June 2021 as a fund-raising and promotional outgrowth of the city of London’s historic downtown revitalization committee. The group puts on the popular Chocolate Walk in February, Old Fashioned Christmas in late November, and the aforementioned shop hops.

“We see the events as a way to teach consumer behavior, getting people downtown consistently so they can see what it has to offer. There are a lot of unique, one-off businesses here that you won’t find in other places,” Mars said.

Over the past several years, London’s downtown business scene has changed significantly, with more and more storefronts going from vacant spaces to viable businesses.

“When we started, occupancy was 60 percent, and we’re up to 90 percent now. Within the next year, we will be very close to 100 percent occupancy in the downtown business district,” Mars said. “We are committed to supporting this growth and serving as a platform for businesses to collaborate.”

Raffles are often a feature of the events hosted by London’s 1811 Downtown District. Other attractions include food trucks and extended hours for downtown businesses.

Upcoming events hosted by the 1811 Downtown District include:

  • A shop hop with a London, Ohio/London, England theme: April 19 from 5 to 8 p.m. The theme honors the London (Ohio) Marathon, Half-Marathon, and 5K taking place the next day to benefit Merri-Mac Park. The timing takes into consideration the fact that hundreds of runners and walkers will be in town April 19 to pick up their race packets. Mars thinks it will be a great way to introduce visitors to London’s downtown.
  • A shop hop with a mom theme: May 16 from 5 to 8 p.m. As with all of the organization’s shop hops, this one will feature food trucks, raffles, and business specials and events.

Because the London Strawberry Festival takes place in June, the 1811 Downtown District will not hold a shop hop that month. Shop hops should resume in July, taking place the third Thursdays of the month. The group hopes to add a farmers market and cruise-in to the event rotation sometime in June.

Anyone interested in promoting downtown London is welcome to get involved in the 1811 Downtown District. The group meets the second Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at Cultivate, 6 E. Second St. There is no cost to join or participate. All members are volunteers, though the group is hiring a part-time person to help with marketing, paid through a partnership with Cultivate.

Volunteers are always welcome to help with events and to pick up trash throughout the year. A volunteer form can be found on the organization’s website at www.1811district.com, or interested individuals can send a message via the group’s Facebook page (search for “London Ohio’s 1811 Downtown District).

Donations to help cover event expenses can be made through the website. All donations are tax deductible.

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