Customer traffic brisk at open houses

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 17, 2003

NATCHEZ &045;&045; Customer traffic ranged from a steady flow to a stampede Sunday afternoon, when many Main Street shops held their Christmas open houses.

The events give friends and family a special reason to visit downtown together and gives merchants a chance to show shoppers what they stocked for the holidays &045;&045; and to show their appreciation to regulars. &uot;It’s a chance to get your friends together and do the open house circuit, and it gives people a jump start on the holidays,&uot; said Tammi Mullins, executive director of the Natchez Downtown Development Association, who was shopping with family Sunday.

&uot;It allows people to see downtown so they can see that we have a lot to offer them, so they can see they don’t have to go out of town to shop,&uot; said Mary Lees Wilson, owner of One of a Kind Gifts.

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The open house doubled as a celebration of the shop’s 20th anniversary.

Out back, the store displayed gift baskets by Jeanne Edwards and art by Sarah Davidson &045;&045; and gave shoppers a place to eat homemade snacks.

At Darby’s, Colleen Wilkins was busy wrapping a gift for one of a steady stream of customers. Owners Dennis and Darby Short, she said, were gone to Jackson’s Mistletoe Marketplace event.

&uot;We’re holding down the fort,&uot; she said as she got ready to wait on another customer.

And Darby’s, along with Franklin Street and some Main Street shops, actually held open houses last weekend, said Elaine Daniels of Daniels Basketry next door. &uot;It’s been slow today, but it wasn’t last weekend,&uot; she said. &uot;We were pretty well swamped.&uot;

That was a sentiment shared with Edward Killelea, co-owner of Different Accents, located on the second floor of Brown Barnett Dixon’s on Main Street.

For shop owner &045;&045; Melanie Miller Downer of the Dream Street toy store &045;&045; it was an opportunity to showcase her brand-new business.

And having stores open on Sunday, a day when many are normally closed, &uot;gives people more convenient shopping hours,&uot; Downer said.

For others, it was a chance to showcase a new location.

&uot;We just moved in July from one street over,&uot; said Irvin Garrett, who owns the shop with wife Linda.

&uot;It’s been a good crowd. People love to look and see what’s here for when they do their shopping. Or they’ll see something and tell their husband to come get it.&uot;

&uot;It gets people ready for Christmas,&uot; said Erin Myers of Sun, Moon and Stars, who said Sunday was &uot;really busy.&uot;