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Shopping small resonates in new ways

Rock Springs, Wyoming

About the business community:

Rock Springs received the Great American Main Street Award in 2018 for its main street renewal program, which revitalized its historic downtown through restoration, a can-do attitude and a vibrant cultural scene. Community and culture events hosted at the restored Freight Station and the refurbished Broadway Theater attracted people downtown. More than 120 businesses supporting nearly 1,000 local jobs make up the downtown Rock Springs business community.

How COVID affected things:

The COVID-19 pandemic shuttered events which normally attracted people to downtown Rock Springs, limited restaurants to carryout orders and scared people to avoid indoor shopping and dining. Many downtown businesses didn’t have an online presence and were heavily reliant on foot traffic. They all struggled to attract enough customers to stay afloat.

How Rock Springs reacted:

When public health orders closed restaurants earlier this year, Rock Springs Main Street issued a curbside challenge, encouraging locals to order delivery and post a photo on social media using the #RSCurbsideChallenge. Participants were entered into a drawing to win $100 gift cards to shop downtown. Later in the year, the program issued a community-wide scorecard to encourage residents to eat at all the restaurants and coffee shops in Rock Springs.

Downtown Rock Springs lost its main fundraising ability with public health orders limiting community events. Cash-strapped, the Rock Springs Renewal Fund, the nonprofit arm for the Main Street Program, turned to the COVID-19 Business Relief Program’s Endurance Fund this year for help. The program plans to invest the $88,890 it received back into the downtown, funding strategies to help shore up downtown businesses and attract more visitors, especially during the winter months.

What the future holds:

Rock Springs Main Street aims to build upon the momentum and support of shopping small and is working on long term strategies of how to embrace winter more and encourage people to come downtown. Their ideas include utilizing patio heaters and supporting more pop up shops.


“Shopping small has resonated much more with people since COVID. People understand that their neighbor or the person who sits next to them in church might have a business on the line and that business needs to be supported.”

-Chad M. Banks, Rock Springs Main Street/Urban Renewal Agency.


Learn more:

  • Downtown Rock Springs Website

  • Downtown Rock Springs Facebook


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