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Downtown merchants report uptick in holiday shopping

A story by Mary Louise Barber at the downtown Christmas tree lighting attracted a crowd. A story by Mary Louise Barber at the downtown Christmas tree lighting attracted a crowd.

Downtown Hendersonville businesses were encouraged by the foot traffic and buying over the Christmas holidays.

"From the conversations I have been having, folks seem to think Christmas downtown and the holiday season in general was good," said Lew Holloway, the Main Street director for the city.
"I think they felt in particular that the local community was really out and visible shopping downtown and making a point of coming and spending time with us. I know they're excited about that; I was excited about that too."
Eva Ritchey, the owner of Once Upon A Sign in the 300 block of North Main Street, said merchants plan to express their thanks for the noticeable effort by local people to support downtown shops.
"Downtown merchants want to say a Big Thank you to all the residents of Hendersonville and Henderson County who went out of their way to shop local," she said in an email. "They will be putting up a large eight-foot banner thanking local and out of town shoppers in the windows of their shops. All the merchants will meet at Think Pink on Wednesday at 10 a.m. to sign the banner and then it will be hung in its first downtown window, Think Pink."
"Downtown merchants noticed an increase of local support during the holiday season," she added. "Even in a difficult economy, it was obvious to the merchants that local people were going out of their way to support downtown merchants. Many downtown merchants stayed open longer hours to accommodate them."
Any independent brick-and-mortar shop faces competition — whether from big box stores or Internet shopping, Holloway said.
"Everything's relative but year over year we feel like we're doing better," he said.
"The general sense is there's a real effort and awareness that's kind of coming through the local community, and trying to make those purchases from local businesses. It makes a big difference for everyone even if you're just shifting 10 to 20 percent of your shipping."
The city's Main Street Advisory Committee sponsored events to pull people downtown and merchants stayed open later.
"We got a lot of good feedback on the events that we had downtown," Holloway said. "I even had folks email that they enjoyed the old-fashion Christmas and that they had the whole family with them so they planned to come back later on to do some shopping."