Downtown kicks off holidays with open house

Monday, November 29, 2004

While the earlybird holiday shoppers came out in full force in the wee hours of the day after Thanksgiving, downtown Cape Girardeau merchants are planning their own event to take care of night owls. On Friday,Old Town Cape and the Southeast Missourian are partnering with the downtown businesses to put on the third annual Christmas Open House.

The event was started in 2001 by the Southeast Missourian and the Downtown Merchants Association -- now represented by the retail merchants committee of Old Town Cape -- as a way to bring people downtown to shop. On that evening, as in past years, 23 participating downtown merchants will keep their doors open from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., in an attempt to kick off the holiday shopping season with a bang.

To help lure shoppers, the three-hour event will feature Christmas carolers, refreshments, Santa Claus, horse-drawn buggy rides and portrait drawings, topped off by a chance to win a $2,000 downtown shopping spree. Registration for the spree entails getting an entry sheet stamped 12 times by visiting as many merchants that evening. In addition, many individual merchants will offer their own door prizes, drawings and refreshments.

Chuck McGinty, committee member and owner of CP McGinty's Jewelers, said the event has been successful in the past.

"It's always nice to see all the downtown businesses open at night," McGinty said. "Judging from past years, it'll be a very busy evening for sure."

Renaissance gift shop will be participating for the third straight year. Owners Mike and Sherry Yaeger said it's an event they both look forward to.

"Every year it's wall to wall in here," said Mike Yaeger. The store normally closes at 7 p.m. during the holidays, but for the Open House they'll have a guitarist and flutist on hand to entertain customers until 9 p.m. Sherry Yaeger estimated that the event usually brings in more than 500 people each year.

"It's great because you get a lot of people downtown who haven't been there recently," she said.

Hutson Furniture will hold its own register-to-win giveaway of a Fitz and Floyd decorative Christmas plate. Owner Chris Hutson said his business has seen the benefits of the past two open houses.

"Every year it's been a real success," Hutson said.

trehagen@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 137

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