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HOPPING HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE

South Boston News
The line was worth the wait for a visit with Santa Claus at the Busy Bean. Sebastian, Valerie, and Nicholas Deleon were very excited to tell Santa what’s on their Christmas wish list during Downtown South Boston Open House on Sunday.
SoVaNow.com / November 24, 2021


South Boston independent retailers drummed up store traffic and sales with Christmas Open House on Sunday afternoon, in what merchants are hoping will set a positive tone for the holiday shopping season.

The clouds that hang over Christmas retail sales — fragile supply chains, price inflation and continued reluctance by some to get out amid the pandemic — were lifted Sunday afternoon, at least for a day, as shoppers thronged to downtown stores and restaurants.

At The Busy Bean, where Santa held court to have his photo taken with kids, restaurant and coffee shop owner Anne Eakes could barely contain her excitement. It helped that families lined up outside The Busy Bean half an hour before Christmas Open House began.

“I just let them inside early — Santa wasn’t even here yet,” said Eakes.

As they waited for St. Nick to arrive, family members enjoyed hot cocoa and other tasty menu items as musicians Brittny Valdes and Tim Robinson entertained. Valdes sang while strumming her ukulele and Robinson tapped away on the djembe, a drum played with bare hands that originated in West Africa.

Destination Downtown South Boston Executive Director Tamyra Vest was pleased by how the shopping promotion went. “It was a great day with lots of people on the streets and in the shops, with much laughter and joy everywhere,” said Vest.

Patsy Owen, owner of Enchanted Surroundings, seconded that assessment: “Foot traffic has been so good and people are so excited.”

The brisk temperatures helped to set a festive tone, Owen added, marveling at how people got all bundled up for the weather. Owen said she especially enjoys seeing people she got to know as kids, now all grown up with their own children and carrying on the tradition of holiday shopping in downtown South Boston.

“There’s no place like home,” said Owen.

She also pointed to the impact of a recent addition to downtown, Factory Street Brewing Company, as important to the success of Open House. Factory Street Brewing hosted an art show Sunday featuring local artists and artisans, with vendors selling jewelry, pottery, paintings and other creations. More than a few people drifted back and forth between the downtown brewpub and shops, boosting foot traffic for the afternoon.

At Factory Street Brewing, high school senior Alexis Barkley displayed her canvas paintings for sale. This was the first showing for Barkley, who has been painting since she was 14.

“I just paint for fun,” she said.

The winner of the $100 downtown gift certificate awarded at the end of Open House was Sandra Newbill. The gift certificate may be used at any business in South Boston that participated in the Christmas Open House. Each business had a basket out for shoppers to enter the contest.

Vest plugged another opportunity this weekend for people to support local merchants — on Small Business Saturday Nov. 27, on the heels of Black Friday promotions at big-box stores the day after Thanksgiving.

“The downtown shops and businesses are waiting once again to serve you. Every time a purchase is made from a local shop, you’re shopping small and making a difference in the lives of your neighbors and the community. That’s what Small Business Saturday is all about,” said Vest.

To further entice shoppers, South Boston and Halifax merchants will offer a gift basket giveaway, with items valued at over $500 going to the lucky winner. To enter, shoppers can take selfies at local shops and restaurants and post the photos on social media with hashtags #ShopSmall, #ShopSmallSoBo, #ShopSmallHali, and #HalifaxVAChamber. Photos publicly posted on social media with these hashtags will be entered in a drawing for the ShopSmall gift basket.

For more information, visit Destination Downtown South Boston and Halifax Market Place on Facebook.

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