Annual Christmas Open House today

Today’s Christmas Open House event will give shoppers the chance to see some of this year’s hottest gifts, and well as thousands of decorating ideas for the holiday season.
Jennifer Gregory, manager of the Starkville Main Street Association and vice president of tourism development for the Greater Starkville Development Partnership, said as the holiday season approaches, today’s Christmas Open House event is a great opportunity for residents to get a head start on their Christmas lists by shopping locally.
“Starkville has a fabulous variety of boutique stores offering gifts and items for children, men, women, teens, college students, and everyone in between, so we hope everyone in the community will support these local establishments,” Gregory said. “I’ve seen some of their displays thus far, and they are beautiful -- so many new and exciting items being debuted this holiday season that no one should miss!”
Christmas Open House will take place from noon to 5 p.m. today in Starkville. This year, the Christmas Open House event is sponsored by the Starkville Main Street Association at the GDSP, but shoppers most likely will not notice a major difference.
“The former Starkville Downtown Business Association laid a great foundation for this fun, holiday event, so we haven’t changed much at all,” Gregory said. “We just tried to build on their success!”
Gregory said Main Street made a concerted effort to make sure that the majority of boutique/retail stores in Starkville knew about this event and encouraged them to participate.
Local merchants participating in this year’s Christmas Open House event will be Avon Beauty Center, Flowers by the Bunch, Reeds, B. Davis Shoes, Bell Building Supply, Sisters, The Purple Elephant, Stewart’s Florist (Main Street location), Mary Virginia’s, Occasions, Ooh La La, Polka Tots, The Book Mart, Fashion Accent, R. Tabb & Co., The Sundial, George Sherman, MakB & Co., Ann’s Stationery, Kim’s Hallmark, Aspen Bay, the Palmer Home Thrift Store, Designer’s Gallery and Giggleswick. Other stores may be participating, but were not confirmed by Gregory at press time.
Gregory said events like Christmas Open House are geared towards primarily increasing awareness about local retailers, and encouraging residents to shop locally.
And while the national recession has not been as big a factor in the local economy as in other areas, Gregory said residents are encouraged to shop locally to support local merchants.
“Starkville has not been hit as badly as other communities by the recession; however, local businesses are hurting, and they need the support of Starkvilians,” Gregory said. “The more we can shop locally and support these local businesses, the better the chances of a vibrant retail atmosphere in Starkville continuing to thrive.”
There will be a variety of special activities at participating businesses for today’s Christmas Open House. Some highlights include:
• Santa Claus will be at Polka Tots.
• Bell Building Supply will open a brand new showroom featuring gourmet food items that will be available for sampling. They will feature their new line of cookware and Cuisinart products with an emphasis on those items used for holiday food preparation. They will also feature a new line of holiday inspired napkins and paper plates, cocktail forks and spreaders.
Ann Bell of Bell Building Supply said the store is filled with Christmas trees for the kitchen. She said the kitchen-themed trees may feature cookie cutters and other items, then they have their “sugar plum trees” featuring gumdrops and cupcake ornaments.
“The entire store has been re-merchandized with the launch of the new showroom,” Bell said. “We are so excited about the new items we have available for our customers and we hope everyone will stop by.
Bell said the new showroom features a window store, interior and exterior wall treatments, door siding, and hardware. Bell said future plans include an additional showroom for the new vanity line for the bath.
Bell Building Supply will also give away door prizes today, in addition to the taste testing of samples from the gourmet food line. Bell said the Red Pepper Blast has been a big hit with customers so far this weekend.
• Robin Jones of Sisters said they will be serving refreshments to their customers throughout the day. They will have special sales throughout the day and they will give away a set of jewelry.
• Monti King of Flowers by the Bunch will be offering ideas by the bunch at today’s open house event. She said they have gorgeous decorated trees, door prizes, refreshments for customers and special sales throughout the store. Designers will also be on hand to discuss custom decorating.
• Heather Wigginton of Alma’s Attic said they will have a variety of their gourmet food products for customers to taste-test throughout the day. Shoppers can register for a gift basket giveaway. Wigginton also said the store will be adding a message therapist to their list of services. She will be on hand today to take appointments and discuss the importance of message therapy for relaxation.
• Jenna Gray of the MAFES Cheese Shoppe on the MSU campus said they will serve refreshments featuring a sampling of cheeses, meats and other products sold at the store.
• George Sherman said local clothing experts (George and Trey) will be on hand to answer questions and help customers find just what they need at one of the best sales of the year.
George Sherman will also serve homemade refreshments to show appreciation to customers.
“It is a good opportunity to pick up a good suit or sport coat at a great price,” Sherman said. “We also have some of the prettiest ties to be found anywhere.”
• Pat Ramsey of Occasions said the store will feature special sales and great refreshments as part of today’s event. Ramsey said the store has many new Christmas items, and new lines will be features as part of today’s festivities.
• At Giggleswick, new owner Janet Massey has invited her nephew, “Sharpie Artisit” Douglas Cruise, to create signature MSU items throughout the day. Customers are invited to watch the artist at work, with his creations available for sale throughout the day.
Sally Kate Winter’s Christmas tee-shirts will also be available today. Among the refreshments, they will be serving samples of the Sugeree’s Bakery Cakes, available at the store. Massey said there will also be special sales and door prizes throughout the day.
• Kay Black with MakB & Co. said they will have “lots of food and pretty stuff” available, with door prizes given away throughout the day.
• Kasey Wesson of Aspen Bay said they have been working hard to get the store ready for today’s event. They will have one of the best sales of the year as well as offer customers a tasting of the gourmet food items available in the store.
• Dallas Sullivan of the Designer’s Gallery said the store will be filled with a variety of beautifully decorated Christmas trees, as part of today’s event. They will have catered food and local decorators will be on hand today to discuss their holiday or home decorating needs.
• Cindy Williams of Kim’s Hallmark said they are baking up a little homemade love for their customers as part of today’s Open House event. Williams said their are three pages of discounts and special sale items for today’s event. A Camelion Jewelry representative will be on hand throughout the day to talk to customer’s about the variety of ways they can use the jewelry line.
• Faye Drewry of The Purple Elephant said their entire staff are guest designers every day. She said they are busy filling the store with beautiful things for Christmas Open House. They will be serving refreshments and giving away door prizes. Drewry said they are looking forward to having a good time with everyone today.
• The Book Mart will be serving refreshments for customers and they will have special sales, particularly on their Christmas ornament line today. Laine Lawson Craft, author of “Feeling God’s Presence Today,” will discuss and sign her book as part of the Christmas Open House event.
• Stewart’s Florist will showcase their new Main Street location as part of today’s Christmas Open House event. They will give away a free ornament to the first 100 customers who stop by today. They will also have special sales and refreshments to show their appreciation for their customers.

Future of the Starkville Main Street program

Gregory said the Starkville Main Street Association has hit the ground running and is busy promoting the four principles of a Main Street community: Organization, design, promotion and economic restructuring.
“We are getting ready for our big fundraiser, the Starkville Holiday Bazaar, which has been handed to us by the Campus Activities Board at MSU,” Gregory said. “We have over 100 booth spaces filled, and a waiting list of about 20 more, so we’re hoping for a very successful event this year at the Starkville Sportsplex!”
Gregory also encouraged residents to expect to see some landscaping improvements to Downtown Starkville, and a greater effort to include surrounding areas, such as Cotton Crossing, College Park, Lampkin Street and the Cotton District in local promotions and other efforts.
“We also look forward to a design workshop that will take place in Starkville most likely in late March that will provide further insight as to how our program should proceed,” Gregory said.