Shoppers flock to downtown for open house

Published 11:09 am Monday, December 1, 2014

Shoppers flocked to downtown Sunday for an open house.

Shoppers flocked to downtown Sunday for an open house.

On a day that seemed more like early spring than the last day of November, local shoppers went downtown to take advantage of bargains, look for special gifts or maybe add a new ornament for their tree during Downtown Vicksburg’s 18th Old-Fashioned Christmas Open House.

The annual weekend shopping day capped off a two-day event highlighting the downtown stores and the city’s small businesses.

“This is how we kickoff the season,” said Jan Lee, who was visiting the stores on Washington Street with her friends. “We’ve been doing this for the past five years.”

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“It’s become a tradition,” her friend Michelle Humphries from Hattiesburg said. “I love Vicksburg.”
“It just gets you in the spirit,” said Joyce McPherson, another member of the group.

Main Street Vicksburg officials were unable to give an exact figure of how many people toured the stores and shops along Washington Street, but believe at least 1,000 people walked the sidewalks and entered the stores between 1 and 5:30 p.m. Shoppers who made purchases totaling $25 or more during the open house received a poinsettia from Main Street.

“It’s been going really good,” Main Street executive director Kim Hopkins said. “We had a real good day Saturday for Support Small Business Day. Business was good all week, and so far today, it’s been steady. The weather has really been beautiful and everyone has been in good spirits.”

Temperatures reached into the upper 70s with clear skies Sunday afternoon, and some shoppers dressed for spring with shorts, T-shirts and sandals to be comfortable in the balmy weather. Christmas music from speakers hidden in the landscaped areas along Washington Street broadcast Christmas tunes for the shoppers.

“I come here every year,” Cathy Bowles said as she walked off with her poinsettia. “This is how I get in the spirit.”
Sassafras owner Nancy Bullard said business at her store Sunday afternoon was “wonderful. It’s a beautiful day to start the shopping season. Our business has been good all week.”

At Peterson’s Art & Antiques, owner Bobbie Marascallo said her business had also been good all November.
“I’m excited,” she said. “Everything has been excellent.”

Christmas trees and Gracie greeted shoppers at Art & Soul, which offered rewards of chocolate to the people wandering through the store.

“This is very encouraging,” said Regina Gailani, who owns the store with her husband, Joe. “The holidays are just starting, so we’re getting things ready and out of the way so we can get ready for customers’ special orders.

“We’ve had a lot of customers, but I think most of them come to see Gracie,” she said, referring to her dog, which was walking through the store and greeting shoppers with a nudge and a wagging tail.
“She’s really the manager here. If customers come in and they don’t see her, they ask, ‘Where’s Gracie.’”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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