Suffolk shops kick off holidays

Published 9:44 pm Saturday, November 7, 2009

Although the day after Thanksgiving is traditionally known as the biggest day for Christmas shopping, at least seven Suffolk retail shops were holding holiday open houses Saturday in hopes of attracting business.

“We really just rolled it out this week,” said Uniquely Leo’s owner Marcy Miller of her Christmas decorations. She had partially decorated the shop before Halloween, but finished the job this week.

Miller’s downtown store had a steady flow of customers all day, who enjoyed snacks and drinks as they shopped. The eclectic shop boasted Christmas merchandise ranging from tree ornaments and party supplies to perfect gift ideas.

At the same time, customers packed into A. Dodson’s on Bridge Road in North Suffolk. Owner Alison Dodson Anderson and her staff, complete with “Santa’s Helper” aprons, served customers as quickly as they could, but a new customer walked in the door for every one that left with a bag.

“It’s like this every year,” Anderson said while ringing up an order. “The customers are wonderful. It gets bigger and better every year.”

This is the sixth Christmas for the shop. Anderson decided to try something new this year — a snowmaker blew artificial flakes at customers climbing the stairs to the front door. On the rather warm day, though, the flakes didn’t stick around long.

Down the road at the Shoppes on the Village Green, three stores on Governor’s Pointe Drive in addition to Smithfield Gardens had teamed up for an open house of their own.

“The minute we opened, we had customers,” said Ruth DiGeorge, the owner of gift shop A Tisket A Tasket. The stores — including Katody’s and Bon Vivant Market — each set out seasonal snacks and initialed advertisement postcards customers brought. Every customer who visited all four stores was entered into a drawing.

“We always have a good turnout for this,” Brenda Gillihan, owner of Bon Vivant, said. “We see existing customers, and there’s a lot of new people that discover us on an event like this.”

Kathy Flythe, co-owner of Katody’s, noted people seem ready to get in the Christmas spirit after a year filled with bad news.

“I think it’s going to be a great day,” she said.

Further downstream in the village of Driver, the Knot Hole Station and Harmony House Antiques paired up to have an open house, as well — also offering snacks to customers.

“We’re seeing a really good response,” said Phyllis Murphy at Harmony House.

Joan Mayo at the Knot Hole Station said more businesses are doing their holiday open houses earlier in the year.

“Today is the big day,” she said. “With the economy the way it is, you have to try to get people in the mood.”

Many of the stores still are holding their open houses today.