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Businesses see Open House success

In New Orleans, a city of more than 400,000 with culturesgathered from around the world, almost anything can be found.

But apparently the Big Easy is a little short on Christmasshopping opportunities.

“There is a lot of cute stuff you just can’t find where I’mfrom,” said Ashley Carriere, a New Orleans resident who kicked offher Christmas shopping Saturday in downtown Brookhaven. “When mymother’s best friend called and said, ‘It’s open house,everything’s on sale,’ I couldn’t resist. I was born and bred toshop.”

Carriere was one of many out-of-towners who took advantage ofSaturday’s perfect weather to browse inside the retail outletsparticipating in the 2009 Christmas Open House, a daylong eventthat saw 36 businesses that are members of the Brookhaven-LincolnCounty Chamber of Commerce open up their doors and cut theirprices. The event served as an unofficial kickoff to the holidayshopping season, and shoppers turned out in large numbers to takeadvantage of the specials.

“We’ve had a busy day,” said Connie Hooper, owner ofEngravables. “Usually, Christmas Open House is one of our biggestdays of the year.”

Hooper had no problem drawing shoppers into her store onCherokee Street Saturday, offering 50 percent off allpre-monogrammed items and 25 percent off all Minky Dot towels, aspecialty fabric she said was in high demand.

Saturday helped Hooper add dollars to what she said has alreadybeen a good business year. Just down the street at SouthernTreasures, a new addition to the retail community still in itsfirst year, Christmas Open House went beyond dollars and cents.

“It’s been real good because we’ve gotten a lot of people whohave never been here before,” said Sue Davis, who ran the counterSaturday for her daughter and store owner, Cassie Vanderslice, whoon Friday had a baby. “People are showing up. They know we’re here.The most important thing it’s done is to give us publicity.”

Southern Treasures was able to attract all sorts of shoppersSaturday because the store contains all sorts of items.

On Davis’ shelves were goods from more than 50 vendors, rangingfrom antiques and collectables to clothing and food. She said eachvendor offered between 10 and 20 percent off and plenty of doorprizes.

One set of vendors at Southern Treasures was Brookhaven’smemorabilia experts Harold and Carroll Montgomery, who filled anentire room with their artifacts. It wasn’t what McComb’s DianeSolomon was expecting to find at Christmas Open House, but itdidn’t surprise her, either.

“Brookhaven, to me, is so unique,” she said as she siftedthrough old-time items. “It’s such a clean town, and friendly. Iheard it was open house, and it was a beautiful day, so I thought,’Why not?'”

Shoppers were attracted to Southern Treasures’ strange brew, buttraditional stores did well during Christmas Open House as well.Sue Golmon’s Golmon’s Outlet was covered in shoppers since theevent opened at 9 a.m., and her $1, $3 and $5 racks were wellpicked through.

“It’s paying in dividends,” she said of Christmas Open House.”It tells us basically what we feel like our season will be like,and we’re looking forward to a good Christmas season.”

Brookhaven Mayor Les Bumgarner reported a good day at his store,the Locker Room, and hopes many more will follow as Christmasapproaches. He said the city’s sales tax numbers are a concern, butbusiness was up at his and other stores Saturday.

“We want to do anything we can to get those numbers up, andevents like this really help,” Bumgarner said.