In five years, not a single invitation has been sent to the Midtown Market’s once-a-month First Thursday celebration. There’s never a guest list, never a need to RSVP. It is, as carefully planned fetes go, a pretty casual affair.
But that doesn’t make it any less of a party.
The event, which began as a way to introduce new customers to the Midtown Market, a little-of-everything gift and antiques boutique at 2113 Kings Way, has, over the course of five years, evolved into a more community-minded event.
Charities and nonprofits – in July it was Storyland Theatre, and in August will be the Augusta Photography Festival – are offered the opportunity to sell cups for the complimentary beverages inside. A local artist is invited to exhibit his or her work.
The idea is not to move as much inventory as possible – the number of patrons that gather in the narrow nooks and crowded crannies make serious shopping difficult. Instead, it is organized as an opportunity to throw a casual shindig that invites the community to celebrate the city’s small town appeal.
“It’s like a neighborhood party,” said Tricia Hughes, the Midtown Market’s community coordinator. “It’s the sort of event where you always seem to see someone you know.”
Stefanie Reed, the owner of the Midtown Market, said that though First Thursday always feels like a casual gathering, she has been very careful to use it in aid of artists and organizations that might profit from a helping hand.
“What we do is very deliberate,” she said. “It’s always about connecting the community with something local – an artist or an organization – that might not get as much exposure as another.”
And while those carefully selected to participate certainly might profit, both fiscally and in terms of exposure, the patrons pile into the small store – and the surrounding businesses who profit from the party’s popularity – not because they want to support a specific cause, but because they understand that of the estimated 200 people that participate every month, a few will always be familiar faces.
“Coming here, I get to see people I don’t get to see all the time,” said Jimmy Menger, a First Thursday regular. “And the thing about it is, it’s always a different mix. It really is a party. And everyone loves a party.”
The next First Thursday event will be 5-8 p.m. Aug. 2. For more details, call 706-364-8479.