story by Brittany Shepard
photos by Jessica Graña & The Downtown Enterprise Business Association
In Enterprise, the unofficial kickoff to the holiday shopping season is the annual Holiday of Hope Downtown Open House hosted by the Downtown Enterprise Business Association.
The Downtown Enterprise Business Association is made up of businessmen and women who own and operate local shops in Enterprise’s historic downtown district. Each year the organization is responsible for hosting numerous events to attract more and more visitors to downtown Enterprise.
The mission of the association is “to make downtown Enterprise a target destination for arts, history, entertainment and shopping for all ages in the Wiregrass area through creative marketing, a cohesive community of merchants and fresh take on downtown entertainment.”
One of the most successful events each year is the Downtown Open House. This year’s event will be held this year on Saturday, November 19, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. in historic downtown Enterprise.
“Each year the event is scheduled the weekend before Black Friday to remind the Wiregrass community of the wonderful shopping opportunities we have to shop local and support small businesses while securing unique gifts at our diverse downtown merchants,” said Regena Lacey, marketing director of the Downtown Enterprise Business Association and owner of local art studio All About Art.
The event is full of fun activities for the whole family, great sales and specials in local shops, a vendor fair, delicious food and treats, live entertainment and so much more.
On the morning of the Open House, Santa will make his appearance for breakfast at Annie’s Café. Later patrons to the Open House can have their photos made with Santa at A & M Designs for free. Throughout the day, Santa will also stroll around and make visits to different locations in the downtown area. At lunchtime, Mrs. Claus will be on hand at the Rawl’s restaurant. Also during the day, several of Santa’s elves will be at Rusted Glitter to share cookies and cocoa with the children.
Other events throughout the day include gingerbread house decorating at All About Art, necklace making at Jo Jo’s Boutique and reindeer food making at Secondhand Treasures and Antiques. Children can stop by Shopaholic to write letters to Santa and visit Style ASAP to have their hair styled as a “Who from Whoville” from Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
Visitors to the Downtown Holiday Open House will be able to enjoy Frosty the Snowman treats at Milky Moo’s, live holiday music featuring local student choirs and horse and carriage rides around downtown throughout the day.
The Christmas Village Marketplace will be located on Main and College streets which will be closed off for the day to vehicle traffic so that the area is pedestrian and stroller friendly.
“The Marketplace will feature between 25 – 30 vendor booths selling their wares and will include such vendors like area home-based businesses and holiday-specific craft business,” said Regena. “This is in addition to all the wonderful sales and specials at permanent shop locations downtown.”
Perhaps one of the most meaningful parts of participating in the Holiday of Hope Downtown Open House is the opportunity to give to a local charity that serves the Enterprise community.
“We are an organization committed to giving back to our community. So, when planning the Holiday Open House, we knew we wanted to celebrate the holiday but also emphasize the importance of giving back to our community,” said Regena.
In an effort to achieve this goal, the Downtown Enterprise Business Association is hosting a food and clothing drive in conjunction with the Holiday Open House. The drive benefits GP Manna, a ministry of Grace Place Church. GP Manna has provided assistance to over 6,000 limited-income families over the last two years.
“Through our partnership with GP Manna, we can combine our two goals. Our patrons will be able to celebrate the holidays and enjoy the shopping experience but at the same time focus on giving back,” said Regena. “GP Manna offers a wonderful service to the Wiregrass area through their food bank, clothing supplies and other services that they provide to qualified families.”
Patrons to the Open House are encouraged to bring non-perishable food, toiletry items, diapers, paper products and gently-used clothing with them to the event. Donation bins will be placed throughout historic downtown Enterprise to collect the donations. The donations will be given to GP Manna to distribute to families in need throughout the holiday season.
For more detailed information about the schedule for the Holiday of Hope Downtown Open House and more events in downtown Enterprise, visit www.enterprisedowntown.org or find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/downtownenterprise.