Downtown merchants welcome Christmas shoppers with open house

Published 10:25 am Monday, November 10, 2014

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This Sunday, shoppers can get an early start on their Christmas shopping while supporting local businesses during the annual downtown Christmas open house from 1-5 p.m.
Downtown Business Association President Cathy Shoun said the event gave the downtown businesses the opportunity to share with customers the special deals and merchandise that will be available for their Christmas shopping.
The DBA is choosing to hold the Christmas open house early in November to beat the Black Friday rush of many of the larger retail stores. It is a time when businesses open their doors to show customer appreciation for their business throughout the year, with many offering refreshments or promotions for the customers.
“The Open House is our way of showing the customers we appreciate their business through the year,” Shoun said.
Most of the businesses participating in the open house have been doing so for many years.
April Proffitt, owner of All Star Sports & Country Crafts, has been a part of the open house for the 19 years she has owned a business in downtown.
“I just love downtown,” Proffitt said. “It is neat to see all the people come out and you get the chance to meet new people who are here for the first time.
Held after church so people can “come shopping and relax,” Proffitt says the event is one of the best shopping days of the year. Even though it will be earlier this year, she is optimistic that many will make their way to the downtown area.
“There is always a lot of people that come,” she said. “I had some asking about the it before it was even scheduled, so it is something the customers look forward to.”
Jane Mullins, owner of The Peddler’s Cart, will also be participating; this will be her second event.
“I like to do anything that helps downtown,” Mullins said. “Not only does this help out downtown as a whole, but it helps out all of the downtown businesses.”
Mullins described the occasion as a day to “enjoy the customers.” She said she offers refreshments and lots of “good deals” for the people who visit her shop.
“I enjoy seeing the smile on the customer’s face when they walk in and see all the decorations, and the good food and good sales,” she said.
Michelle Taylor and Andrea Edmondson, owners of Elizabethton Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio, will be continuing the original owner’s tradition of taking part in the open house.
“Leta (Hale) owned this business for 25 years,” Edmondson said. “She was a part of the open house for as long as she owned a business in downtown. We are continuing with that.”
Edmondson says the best part of the event is being able to create a special shopping experience for the customers.
“I love being able to pass on that hospitality and celebrate the coming of the holiday season with our customers,” she said.
She said she believes the event stimulates business for the downtown merchants – not only on the day of the open house but for days and weeks to come.
“They may not buy anything that day,” she said, “but they will come back and buy something later.”
Retail shops won’t be the only businesses offering special holiday hospitality;several downtown restaurants will be participating as well.
Ava Holsclaw of Southern Restaurant, says her business will be open for extended hours during the open house.
Offering their usual Sunday dinners, they will be open later thatn usual – until 4:30 p.m.
“It is a great opportunity to get people in downtown to see what is going on,” Holsclaw continued. “It draws people out. It is best to get people to shop local when they can.”
According to Shoun, one reason customers look forward to the open house is the customized service the receive. One example are her “Dear Santa” letters she sends to customers letting them know what kind of specials she will be offering.
“I let them know that I can help them when they are making decisions on their purchases and that I have gift cards available,” she said. “It is the little things that bring customers into downtown and keep them coming back. Not everyone is going to offer what they can find in the shops downtown. It is up to us as small businesses to keep offering those special details that keep them coming back.”
And, once the open house is over, downtown merchants will observe another special shopping day on Saturday, Nov. 29 – Small Business Saturday.
In an iniative led by Carter County Bank, the event will feature a live radio remote from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with opportunities for downtown Elizabethton merchants to promote their specials.
Carter County Bank Marketing Director Rebecca White said the bank will also offer free gift wrapping for purchases made in downtown that day, a holiday photo booth, a spin and win prize wheel and special appearances by Santa.
“We will be mingling through downtown, talking with customers, sharing what is happening at the businesses and why it is important to shop local,” she said. “We really want to get the word out about what is happening in our downtown.

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