INDEPENDENCE -- Several downtown businesses have pledged to keep their doors open later than usual on Thursdays in July and August to coincide with Family Movie Nights at the Independence Amphitheater.
The businesses also will serve as stops on a "poker walk" of downtown, in which participants can visit each storefront for a chance to win a cash prize.
The weekly event is being coordinated by the Independence Downtown Association (IDA).
"We want to get people downtown so they can see some of the businesses that we have to offer," said Julie Malo, IDA director. "They can shop if they like, and hopefully will come back another time."
Lenora's Ghost, the Rose and Ram Knit Shop and Studio, River Flow Coffee House, Linens and Things, and Second Chance Books are participating. All will stay open until at least 9 p.m., and some, later.
IDA members are trying to recruit other businesses as well to join in the event. Movie nights will start at dusk on July 6, 13, 20 and 27 and Aug. 3, 10, 17 and 24.
On those days -- all Thursdays -- organizers will set up a booth at the top of the amphitheater of Main Street, where attendees can register for the poker walk. Cost is $3 per person or $5 per couple.
Participants will be issued a form which they can take to any of the aforementioned businesses. There, they will pick a playing card from a deck.
After receiving a card at each of the five storefronts, they'll return the form to the main booth. The best poker hand wins the evening's pot.
The completion of the amphitheater and a regular schedule of events has drawn more foot traffic through downtown, said Jan Johnson, owner of the Rose and Ram.
Few businesses besides her and Lenora's Ghost kept their doors open until or beyond 9 p.m. Even in small towns like Independence, people want shopping options at that time, she said.
"I think this will give people something to do if they're coming from further out in the area or from Salem," she said. "The movies start at dusk," she said. "If they're coming after work, they have a place to go while they wait for them to start."
For more information, e-mail Rick Gydesen at firstname.lastname@example.org.