For the past several years, Penn Avenue in West Reading has created a special tradition once a month: Second Fridays on The Avenue, a unique time for the local boutiques that are the lifeblood of the avenue’s economy to shine.
“[Second Fridays on the Avenue] are geared towards the boutiques,” said West Reading’s Main Street Manager, Mark Ratcliffe. “[When we encourage people to shop in West Reading], we are competing with Amazon. We are constantly trying to get people to shop in West Reading. The biggest way to get [local] retail to survive is to be event-oriented,” he added.
Second Fridays on The Avenue typically involve Penn Avenue’s beloved boutiques extending their business hours, live music, and a variety of other events. Ratcliffe noted that, due to the pandemic, this winter has proved to be a challenging time to plan Second Friday events due to cold. “We’re easing back into it,” he said.
“Hopefully, by the time the weather is nice we can be out there with live music [again].” Ratcliffe also noted that nearly every shop on Penn Avenue participates in Second Fridays on The Avenue, and that extensive Covid safety protocols–such as increased sanitization and masking/social distancing policies–are “second nature” for everyone by this point.
Second Fridays on The Avenue resume on February 12, 2021, with certain shops and restaurants on the Avenue catering to those celebrating Valentine’s Day.
Ratcliffe is hopeful that, now that restaurants can be filled to 50% capacity once again in addition to heated outdoor dining options, the always-popular restaurants on Penn Avenue will be safely busy for the holiday weekend.
Second Fridays are just one facet of West Reading’s ever-growing community event schedule. While the pandemic cancelled many of the annual events that take place on Penn Avenue in 2020, Ratcliffe is optimistic that these events will be able to safely resume this year. “The biggest difference between shopping online and in-person is the engagement,” he shared.
You can find out more about Second Fridays on The Avenue and other upcoming events in West Reading–including West Reading Fashion Week (2/24-2/27), the Craft Pretzel and Beer Fest (April), Art on the Avenue (June), Fall Fest (September), and Christmas events (which include a brass band, carolers, and horse and carriage rides in December)–at visitwestreading.com.