(Photo by Michelle Felter, Staff)
SIKESTON -- People who shop in downtown Sikeston this weekend will likely get a blast from the past, with the Historic Midtown Development Group's Christmas Open House.
"We see families come out, and it's a lot of fun," said Terri Hurley, owner of Bo's Jewelry and Pawn. "It reminds me of the old days, with the Carnival downtown. I get that feeling from when I was a small child and I would go shopping with my Mom."
An old-fashioned weekend, with the downtown crawling with shoppers, is just what the HMDG has in mind when organizing the festivities, which run from Friday through Sunday.
"There will be free carriage rides, U.S. Bank is offering free hot chocolate and cookies and there will be two groups of carolers," said Brandon Kuehn, HMDG executive director. "Also, Santa will be in American Legion Square on Friday night."
About 15 downtown merchants are set to participate in the eighth-annual event. Most of them will have extended hours and are offering refreshments, and other specials
Kuehn said the group has distributed fliers about the festivities. "We are just telling people it is a shopping event downtown and a kickoff to the holiday season," he said.
Marianne Hensely, owner of M's, said the open house generates quite a crowd.
"I think (the shoppers) just enjoy it and it gets them in the spirit of things," she said. She sells quite a few candles and home accessories, as well as Lady Primrose body products carried in the shop.
"A lot of people are Christmas shopping, but some are just looking," said Hensely. "Some will come and look, then come back and make purchases in a couple of weeks."
Over the weekend, Hensely said she also offers samples of gourmet foods, which are hot sellers around the holidays.
Sue Bailey, manager at Paul's Christian Bookstore, said the weekend is busier than usual there, too.
"People just come in and buy a variety of things," she said. That includes Bibles, other books and gifts, or even collectibles, such as Precious Moments.
Even Susie's Bake Shoppe gets a lot of business during the weekend. Owner Susie Kenedy said the restaurant is booking reservations for dinner on Friday. Lunch specials will be offered on Saturday.
"A lot of people also look through items and start making orders for Thanksgiving and Christmas," said Kenedy. They also browse the Christmas gift items, she said.
Jeannie Williams, owner of Purse 'N' Ality, said her businesses and others downtown have just what people want. "I think they're looking for something unique and affordable and that's what my store is all about," said Williams.
She strives to have unique clothing, accessories and other items in her store. Something popular this year, said Williams, are the Miche handbags. A basic black or brown purse, shells in varying colors and designs are sold to attach to the purse and change its look, Williams explained.
Hensely said what the retailers offer is unique, too. "And the more stores we have like mine and the others downtown, the more we can bring people into Sikeston," she said.
"It's nice to be able to get something a little different, not something everybody else carries," Hurley agreed. She said she sells a little bit of everything her store offers during the weekend -- guns, electronics, other pawn items and, of course, jewelry.
"There are a lot of jewelry sales," she said. Circles of love pendants and three-stone designs continue to be popular, she said.
"I also try to help people add to their existing jewelry so they can change it up and have something a little different," said Hurley.
Sam Thomas, owner of Sam's Fine Jewelry, said business is brisk for him around the holidays -- especially open house weekend, too.
"We've been selling a lot of two and three-carat diamonds," he said of popular items now. However, pendants, earrings, watches and right-hand rings are also hot sellers around the holidays.
"A lot of women are looking to upgrade," added Thomas.
Several vendors said customers are often surprised when they walk into one of the stores for the first time.
"I had people last year that came in that had never been in the store before, but the open house is what enticed them to come in," said Williams. "But then they come back -- and it builds repeating business."
Kuehn encouraged people, even if they don't come to buy, just to visit downtown over the weekend to check out what merchants have to offer. "Whenever you buy downtown, you support local business," he said. "And there are a lot of great treasures that you don't know are here until you get in here and find them."
To draw people into the stores, the punch card giveaway is back for the second year. Shoppers can pick up a card at any retailer. Once it is signed or punched by each, they'll turn it in for a drawing, of which three individuals will win cash prizes.
Kuehn noted that no purchase is necessary to have the card punched.
"It draws them into a store that they might not have normally gone into," he said. "Then they'll see things and say 'I didn't know they had this.'"
Kenedy, who is also the chair of the HMDG promotions committee, agreed. "We want to promote people to shop Sikeston and help support your hometown business first -- see what everyone has to offer before you go out of town," she said. "You may be surprised."
The Downtown Sikeston Holiday Open House will be Friday through Sunday
> Some stores will offer extended store hours and special deals
> There will be free carriage rides, leaving from Front and Center streets
> Beginning at 6 p.m. Friday, there will be Christmas carols performed by the Fifth and Sixth Grade Center Choir, as well as the Sikeston carolers dressed in Dickens Christmas attire.
> There will be a visit for children with Santa and his elves from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday.
For more, call the Historic Midtown Development Group at 573-380-3801