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Spreading the cheer downtown

South Boston News
Rebecca Mulwee browses the selection of art in the upstairs gallery at Southern Plenty. / November 20, 2017
Sunday was a big day in the holiday retail season for downtown South Boston merchants as they hosted their annual Christmas Open House, and shop owners said afterward the promotion had gone very well.

“Today’s been a very productive day,” said Fred Betts as he manned the counter at Manna, the Natural Experience health food store and café. The new business has been staying open every third Sunday of the month, but with the turnout yesterday the staff is thinking about keeping longer hours for the holidays.

“If it continues to do well, we’ll consider opening for two or three Sundays,” said Betts.

The sidewalks were humming as shoppers, browsers and diners checked out the offerings and specials at the local-owned downtown shops and restaurants. Don Bagwell at Southern Plenty said it had been a very active day: Mary Bagwell, his wife, had been preparing for the 31st annual Open House since 8 a.m. “We’ve been busy,” he said.

At Enchanted Surroundings, one visitor said she could hardly take in the vast selection of Christmas decorations and holiday-themed gifts. That was just what Patsy Owens, the shop’s owner, hoped to hear

“This is always a special day,” said Owen as shoppers flowed steadily through her shop on a quest for gift items or refreshments, or just to take in the scene.

Adding to the appeal of this year’s event were downtown’s new shops, which have sprung up with the SoBo Startup! entrepreneurial initiative. Sweet Cee’s, one of the new downtown businesses, was offering specials and door prizes for customers.

Another new business, KJ’s Cake Creations, sold cupcakes for $1 each, and another new business, Art Acoustix Gallery, which opened just recently, had balloons blowing across the sidewalk and offered specials on art supplies and lessons, and in-store displays of individual artworks.

Across the street, Keep It Classy consignments featured a large rack of specially priced items, while Distinct Impressions, with its new façade, held a holiday sale with 20 percent off much of its inventory.

McCollum Ferrell Shoes offered had a large display of shoes and boots, everything needed for the upcoming winter months.

Most downtown businesses were open during the day, and downtown visitors took advantage by ducking inside to ward off the cool and breezy weather.

There was a steady stream of parents and youngsters who waited in line to have pictures taken with Santa Claus.

“Tell him you’ve been good,” one mother advised her little one as he sat on the lap of none other than Santa Claus himself. One of Santa’s guests, young Jackson Ambrose, was not so sure about the whole thing, so his mom agreed to first sit on Santa’s lap, then held him tight during the photo shoot.

At the end of Christmas Open House, the recipient of the $100 downtown gift certificate was announced: the lucky winner was Margaret Nelson.

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