Welcoming the Christmas season early, Opelika Main Street and Downtown Merchants held its annual Christmas Open House, Sunday.
The event has been celebrated for about 10 years as a way to bring people downtown and support the small business, said Velinda Wheels, director of the event.
The open house was from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and approximately 20 stores participated.
“It’s fun, festive and a good way to get into the spirit,” said Sue Watson of Opelika. “Everybody is out having a leisurely good time, and it’s a good way to spend time with your friends on a Sunday afternoon.”
The event was originally just a store or two, but gained momentum as more began participating.
The stores eventually joined together to create one big event, Wheels said.
Stores were adorned with Christmas decorations and sold goods such as ornaments, jewelry, kitchenware and wine.
“We are the most unique store,” said Rick Horne, owner of The Brass Brassiere. “We sell antique gifts, home decor, wine and we cater.”
Refreshments and complimentary gift wrap were available and merchants gave away prizes.
The Southern Crossing, a gift shop, had a random drawing of receipts.
If a person had a pink receipt with a sticker on it, they got to choose out of a gift bucket containing Christmas ornaments, festive notebooks and calendars.
The Southern Crossing also sold Auburn and Alabama Christmas trees, ornaments and kitchenware.
“It’s been an awesome afternoon and is a great way to begin the Christmas shopping season,” Wheels said.
At Picket Fence, customers could register to win a Vera Bradley backpack, and The Brass Brassiere offered two free wine tastings.
“We’ve been here for about two hours and we’ve enjoyed looking,” said Christie Parker of Opelika. “We got here late so it wasn’t as crowded coming later.”
Picket Fence had about 850 customers peruse their store and thought the event turned out great, said Liz McCollum, owner of Picket Fence.
“It was a great experience,” said Ashley Yerves, junior in exercise science. “We went everywhere. It was our first time attending the event. We came to the wine and food tasting here before.”