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Iowa City Hosts 45th Year of Sidewalk Sales

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IOWA CITY, Iowa - Most of the time, shoppers in Iowa City have to go indoors to get what they want. But for a few days each year, stores bring their merchandise out to the shoppers.

"What's really great is that it's like an open-air market," said Denise Jarrot at Prairie Lights Bookstore. "Rather than being intimidated or having to come into this store they've never been in, there's sort of a middle ground between outside and in here."

Prairie Lights co-owner Jan Weissmiller said with the help of the Iowa City Downtown District and social media, this year's Sidewalk Sales event has been bigger than ever, in spite of the recent blast of oppressive humidity.

"The weather is terrible, so we weren't sure that we would have much traffic, but I think it's the best one that I can remember," Weissmiller said. She explained that it's also one of the few times the city offers free parking, something plenty of customers like to take advantage of.

"It's a good way for us to show and put out some sale books, and to show people some things they might not ordinarily see in the store."

The timing of this event also provides a boost in business for stores that typically see more traffic during the busy school year.

"Iowa City is a college town, and sales haven't been the highest," said Nadia Dunlap, sales associate at Catherine's. She said Catherine's two downtown locations have also been bustling.

"Sidewalk sales started on Thursday, and that's been our busiest day so far," Dunlap told us.

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