Downtown Bristol was packed last Saturday night as shoppers sought out the best deals from downtown merchants participating in the 12th Annual Holiday Preview.
The event, hosted by the Bristol Merchants Association, was held over the course of two nights, Nov. 22-23, a first in its history. Stores stayed open later, from 5 – 9 each night.
“It was always so crowded, so we thought we’d expand it and try two nights,” said Kathleen Seguin, president of the association. “The initial feedback has been that it was a great success.”
Friday’s rain gave way to cooler temps in the evening. Jaclyn Frye, owner-operator of Coggeshall Jewelers on Hope Street, said traffic through the store was a bit scarce Friday night, but picked up heavily on Saturday.
“We did OK on Saturday, better than we had anticipated,” she said. “We made a substantial amount for an evening. We did a lot of sales of smaller items, whereas in the past we’d sold bigger-ticket items. People were also looking for a lot of Bristol things.”
Dancers from Extensions Dance Studio performed scenes from the Nutcracker in Coggeshall Jewelers’ shop window on Friday night.
“People were getting out of their cars to take pictures,” Ms. Frye said.
Shoppers witnessed Santa Claus getting his beard trimmed as he sat in a styling chair at New Leaf Hair Studio. U.S. Rep. David Cicilline was spotted downtown patronizing several stores, including Harbor Bath and Body.
“I loved having the two nights,” said Lynn Shaw, owner of Harbor Bath and Body.
The Holiday Preview kickstarts the holiday shopping season, showcasing all that downtown Bristol merchants have to offer. Many stores offered product discounts and giveaways over the two nights.
“We are really trying to encourage people to shop local,” said Ms. Seguin.
Shoppers who patronize stores participating in the Snow Flake Raffle will get a raffle ticket for every $25 spent, from now until Dec. 15. Winning tickets will be drawn during the Snowflake Festival at 5 p.m. Dec. 22. The festival takes place on the lower portion of State Street. Santa will arrive by a fire truck and there will be live entertainment. Winners must be present to claim their prize.