(Michelle Felter/Standard Democrat)
"We're really looking forward to hosting this event again this year as a kickoff to the Christmas shopping season," said Brandon Kuehn, executive director of executive director of the Historic Midtown Development Group. Participating stores will have extended hours through the weekend, and all of them will offer specials.
"We'll also offer carriage rides again," Kuehn said. The free rides are available from 5 to 8 p.m. today and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Santa Claus will be in the area to visit with children during the same time both days.
Sikeston's Board of Municipal Utilities has a "Holiday Surprise" planned for 7 and 8 p.m. today, and the Depot Museum will also host its "Winter Wonderland" show, Kuehn said.
The main focus of the event, however, is to highlight what the merchants offer.
"Other events focus on the historic aspect and family-friendly atmosphere," he said. "But this highlights that there are good, unique stores."
Kuehn said a lot of the items sold in downtown stores are unique.
"You also get a better quality and service here," he said. Not only that, the downtown businesses are all locally owned.
Terri Hurley, owner of Bo's Jewelry and Pawn, said open house weekend is always a blast. She and her staff dress up as elves.
"Sales like these are important to customers," she said. "But it's also a lot of fun."
Although repeat and regular customers attend every year, the open house also brings in new faces, which makes it even more exciting, Hurley said.
This year, Hurley will also celebrate 25 years in business.
"It's exciting for us," she said. "It's fun to be here and have the expectation of another 25."
Hurley has also turned her attention to another building on Front Street -- the Buckner Building, which also housed Erica's Pianos. She purchased it over the summer and is now making renovations.
"It just needed some TLC," she said. During the open house, the storefront will be open for people to browse. It will also be the location for children's photos with Santa Claus.
"I want to let people see what the building has to offer," Hurley said. Once the renovations are complete, Hurley said, she plans to rent or sell it for a retail business.
"There is good traffic there, and I would like to continue to build downtown," she said.
New to the Open House events this year is Front Street Studio and Gallery. As it opened over the summer, the business will celebrate its grand opening with a wine and cheese reception on Friday. They too will be open Saturday and Sunday and will have a drawing for a piece of art, said co-owners Judy Comer and Annie Schuchart.
Susie Kenedy, owner of Susie's Bake Shoppe and a member of the Downtown Sikeston group, said she always looks forward to the event.
"It just helps everybody get into the Christmas spirit," she said.
While there are some holiday items in her store, Kenedy said a big draw is the Friday night dinner.
"We're usually filled to capacity," she said. "It's really best to have a reservation, but we still might have a seat if you walk in."
Susie's is also open for lunch Saturday. Baked goods are available for sale, she said. Plus, it's a good time to book holiday parties or make casserole, meat, dessert or roll orders for the holidays, said Kenedy.
Personal Expressions owner Teresa McGill said the Open House is much-anticipated.
"We have people calling us in August asking when it's going to be," she said.
Not only does it get the staff in the Christmas spirit, the open house gets customers excited about the holiday season, too. "We are always so busy, it's hard to even look up," she said.
Jeanne Williams, owner of Purse'N'Ality, agreed. The store will again be decorated in a Disney theme -- which children and adults alike appear to enjoy, she said.
Williams' store will showcase some new product lines this year.
"We have a new little room, Lil Miss Personality," she said. The room includes all sorts of accessories for baby girls up to those who are age 5, said Williams.
New Miche handbag wraps are in, and Sassy Frass T-shirts are another new product line that Williams said she expects to be a hit.
Williams said the trendy MOGO charm bands are in stock, which are worn by celebrities such as Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus and the Jonas brothers. Fabric bands are purchased and can be decorated with magnetic charms. "They can be made into bracelets, necklaces and headbands," she said.
With Purse'N'Ality's special deal, all customers receive a gift bag. "And whatever you can get in that bad, you get 20 percent off," explained Williams.