Exploring downtown Grand Rapids through Uptown Holiday Shop Hop

Courtesy / Uptown Grand Rapids

Courtesy / Uptown Grand Rapids

Elyse Greenwood

Located about 20 minutes from downtown Grand Rapids is the Grand Valley State University Allendale Campus. GVSU has long involved itself in the Grand Rapids community, even creating a downtown campus less than 20 years after its founding. 

The 21st annual Uptown Holiday Shop Hop is a perfect time for students from all GVSU campuses to be a part of the downtown Grand Rapids community, which has supported GVSU since its beginning. This event, which will occur on Dec. 6 from 4 to 10 p.m., spans the four business districts of East Fulton, East Hills, Eastown and Wealthy Street. More than 70 businesses are involved in this event which will feature special deals, Christmas carolers, holiday treats and more. 

“It is a day that we encourage the community, shoppers and audience members to come in, interact with our stores, and shop local for the holiday season and to just experience Uptown with friends and family,” said Collin Bailey Jonkman, the marketing and events manager for Uptown. 

For students who have yet to truly explore the downtown area and the quaint shops, this is a perfect opportunity to appreciate the city in all of its holiday splendor. 

“Uptown is a short bus ride from Allendale,” Jonkman said. “You take the 50 downtown and then you get on the 6. There are really cute curated shops like Outdoor Coffee Co. that has their geodomes out. I think that if students have never been to Uptown, Shop Hop is a perfect way to experience it. We have shuttle buses between each district, the shops will be lit up and full of life and restaurants and bars will have specials. It’s just a really great time to see all that Uptown has to offer.”

While many shoppers look forward to this special event every year to check some gifts off of their Christmas list, the local Grand Rapids businesses also love seeing the support from their community. 

“Shop Hop is definitely one of our favorite times of the season,” said Geniene Hourigan-Culp, a Grand Valley alumna and lead designer of New Design Floral in East Hills, a suburb of Grand Rapids. “The sense of community in our neighborhood that comes out with Shop Hop and the ways in which we support each other tops my list.” 

Another participating business, Le Bon Macaron in East Hills, is adding their own spin to this year’s Shop Hop. While they will still be offering specials on their macaroons, they are also emphasizing the giving aspect of the holiday season. 

“We have something very special and fun happening during Shop Hop,” said owner Kelly Toland. “My three-year-old daughter, Charlotte, is hosting her first fundraiser (selling homemade holiday cookies) to support Wyatt, the Red Panda at the John Ball Zoo, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. She loves Wyatt and loves her little bakery stand and wanted the opportunity to serve customers, as you can imagine she is always wanting to help at the shop, and support her favorite animal at the zoo. She’s very excited!”

Even businesses that do not have a product to sell are involved in the event. Businesses of this kind will be opening up their doors for pop-up shops, treats and drinks, truly making this a community event. 

“It is an event for people to come together and spend time together for the holiday season and engage in our community,” Jonkman said.