By Shailin Tisdale, Richland Northeast HS (Columbia, South Carolina)
One Columbia is an organization within Columbia that promotes art and events for Main Street and the Columbia area. It hosts many events such as One Book, One Community, Anastasia’s Fund, Fall Lines and even things as important as designing the new Columbia Flag. One event that is gaining in popularity is First Thursdays on Main. First Thursday is an event held on Main Street every First Thursday of the month. It’s used to promote Main Street businesses.
Every First Thursday over 25 retailers participate in the street market. This special event promotes offers, mixtures of specials, entertainment, and much more. It’s a time to promote Main Street businesses and bring the community together, “I don’t always look at it for an event for sales,” said President Jeremy Becraft. “I look at it as an event they might come through, they see something, and they might be back later.”
He also describes it as being an event that people can anticipate. “Hey, I’m putting it on my calendar. It’s First Thursday I know something is happening on Main Street.” said Becraft.
Former One Columbia member Mark Plessinger founded First Thursday. After low success, Plessinger left the presidency of the program. Jeremy Becraft, the new president of First Thursdays, offers a new appreciation and perspective for the event. Becraft is also the general manager of the Mast General Store, the largest retail store on Main Street.
Becraft’s new position has turned First Thursdays into an event that people look forward to attending. “It needed to come with someone who had a connection to Main Street based on the business they run.” said Becrafts.
Before Becraft, First Thursday’s weren’t very popular. Originally, the event focused on the art perspective which didn’t attract many people. After becoming president, Becraft came in with new ideas and a different vision for First Thursdays. He changed the name from “First Thursday” to “First Thursdays on Main” which automatically attracted new attention. He reinvented the concept and made it more family oriented by including new things such as, music, food, and marketing. Although Becraft said it took a year of “growing pains” it turned into something that could be appreciated and enjoyed by many.
One Columbia plays a very important role in the series of events leading up to First Thursdays. They help with marketing, connecting artist, and promoting all events for First Thursdays. Becraft even mentioned that most of their connections and participation comes from being involved with One Columbia.
“They play an integral part in the organization.” said Becraft, “They still do a great job at organizing and planning our events.”
Six sponsors include themselves in First Thursdays, including City of Columbia and City Center Partnership, Inc., which has expanded the event from where it once was.
“Since we’ve really established this board we’ve been able to turn it into an event we thought it could always be.” said Becraft.