November 8, 2013 10:08:48 AM
Sarah Fowler - email@example.com
Twinkling lights and sparkling ornaments were on display in downtown Columbus Thursday during the annual Christmas Open House's first evening.
While the event is normally held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, downtown merchants opted to open their doors Thursday night as well.
Party and Paper owner Susan Mackay said having the open house on a Thursday allowed downtown events to work together to bring more people to stores.
"It plays off of the other things that are going on that first Thursday," she said. "The Arts Council has an event every first Thursday and this helps get a different crowd that we think we may not have hit during the day."
Mackay was pleased with Thursday's turnout.
"The weather is perfect and we couldn't have asked for a better night and the crowd is coming well and we're excited."
Geraldine Coleman with the Purple Elephant said with fewer shopping days this Christmas season, having the Open House begin on a Thursday is beneficial for both the merchant and the consumer.
"This is important because there is a week less of shopping time between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year," Coleman said. "Last year there were 32 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, this year there are only 25 shopping days."
Coleman said due to the shorter shopping season, shoppers may not wait until Black Friday to begin buying Christmas gifts.
"I think it will be a very intense shopping time," she said. "Maybe the same amount of people but it's going to be very intense."
Taylor Hegwood was shopping at Holly Hocks making wish lists in a binder and snapping pictures with her cell phone. Hegwood said having the event on Thursday allowed her to frequent an event she may have missed otherwise.
"If you have weekend plans and you can't get around during the week, it gives you another option," she said. "You can get off work and come down and tour it."
Hegwood said she and her family begin decorating for Christmas in the beginning of November because they're rarely home during the actual holiday season so having an open house in early November works perfectly for her decorating plans.
"We are gone the week of Thanksgiving and then we're gone all Christmas break so to really get up our Christmas decorations and enjoy them we kind of start around the first-to-mid-November. That way, by the time Thanksgiving hits, we're got it all up and we've got it all decorated and when we get back from Thanksgiving we've got Christmas ready and we can just enjoy and not have to worry about getting off work and coming home and decorating or doing it on the weekends. So we're ready to cozy up by the fire with some hot chocolate and enjoy some family time together."
Jane Smith was also shopping at Holly Hocks. She shops for Christmas not just on Black Friday but all year round.
"I'm a Christmas nut," Smith said. Smith and her husband, Ron, shop the downtown open houses every year.
"We come back every year to see the new things and add to my collections," she said.
Main Street Director Barbara Bigelow said Thursday night's turnout was "fabulous."
"I'm thrilled with the crowd downtown and I think with the weekend it will prove to be better," Bigelow said.
Downtown merchants will be offering specials throughout the weekend. Coleman said the open house is a great opportunity to shop and eat downtown.
"All of the merchants downtown have a special and the restaurants downtown are also participating in this so it's a good time to shop downtown and eat downtown," she said.
Sarah Fowler covers crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch. Follow her on Twitter @FowlerSarah