More than 200 people gathered Saturday for a rally on State Street designed to support locally owned downtown businesses.
The demonstration was organized this week after Sarasota News and Books announced it would be closing Aug. 31.
Bookstore owner Andrew Foley told the crowd that it’s been a challenging time, but he hoped the concern his customers have been showing since he announced he was closing his business will spur them to support other downtown businesses.
He said stores have traditionally done well during the four months when tourists are here, but he challenged residents to show the same support the other eight months of the year.
“Will you respond?” he asked the people in attendance.
“Yes,” many shouted back.
Foley and Wendy Getchell, president of the Downtown Sarasota Merchants Association, encouraged residents to take part in a nationwide campaign called the 3/50 Project, in which people name the three stores which they could not do without and pledge to spend $50 per month at each one.
“Everything you do downtown has a big impact,” said Getchell.
Speaking at the rally along with Foley were District 13 Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, Mayor Dick Clapp and Downtown Partnership Chairman Phil Chmieleski.
Said Chmieleski: “We’re not going to roll over and let the recession get us.”
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