In this undated photo, a worker hangs garland around the Square in Murfreesboro, Tenn. (File photo)
Local shops on Murfreesboro’s downtown Square will exchange their ghouls and goblins for red bows and jingle bells next weekend during the annual two-day Downtown Holiday Open House.
Festivities kick off at 6 o’clock sharp Friday with the unveiling of Country Gourmet’s new Murfreesboro Collector’s Ornament – number 16 in the series.
Neighboring shops will open their doors to offer refreshments and exclusive discounts, while horse-and-carriage duos wait outside to give free rides.
“It kicks off Thanksgiving and the whole season of winter celebration,” said Judy Goldie, owner of Trendy Pieces and Bella’s Boutique, who serves as a board member of the Only Downtown Business Alliance, a 79-member organization that sponsors the Holiday Open House.
Most shops will be open until 8 p.m. Friday, and free carriage rides will be offered every Friday until Christmas Eve.
Additionally, the city’s annual tree lighting ceremony has been scheduled for Friday, Dec. 7, to continue the holiday cheer with the arrival of Santa Claus, live entertainment, and the gathering of families at the courthouse steps.
“There’s nothing like a town tree lighting,” Goldie added. “It’s just like the olden days; it’s very special.”
While the holiday kick-off is an alliance initiative, Murfreesboro’s Main Street program is credited for the Christmas tree lighting and sponsorship of the free carriage rides.
“It will be a really festive time in general,” Goldie said. “It’s really magical down here at Christmastime.”
Chris Gerbman, who owns Country Gourmet with his wife, Karen, explained how the Open House got its start some 10 years ago.
“This is our 16th ornament premiere party, and somewhere along the way, the rest of the group started doing their open houses,” he recalled.
Country Gourmet’s premiere party lasts for two hours, and Gerbman says about 200 people will come through the shop’s doors during that time.
“People will come over and get their ornaments, eat at Marina’s or Maple Street Grill, hit all of the other places to see what’s new for Christmas and how all of the (shops’) windows are decorated and just wander around the Square,” he said.
He noted how the open house is a favorite among families and couples, alike.
“It’s kind of a nice couples’ kick-off to Christmas because you can sort of do a date night that’s not really expensive,” he said.
The Open House is a perfect time for shoppers to visit new businesses and decades-old shops that are situated side by side on the Square.
“It’s kind of where the hometown history and the new cutting-edge trendy are all together in one place downtown,” Gerbman said. “It’s a fun weekend. And it bleeds over into Saturday; all day (shoppers) are still coming in.”
With hundreds of visitors to the downtown area, local businesses are sure to benefit from the foot traffic and exposure to new and repeat customers, alike.
This will be Simply Southern’s first holiday on the Square, and owner Valerie Williams said she couldn’t be more excited.
Williams opened the shop less than a month ago in the space that formerly housed Ray Hines and Co. to offer handmade and “reloved” goods from local artisans.
Her husband builds farm tables, kids’ tables, and chairs, while fellow artists create jewelry, décor and clothing – it’s all “really cool, top-notch stuff,” she said.
“We are looking forward to the open house and have already designed our window,” Williams said. “We’re getting our Christmas merchandise to start packing in, and we’re already wearing our little jingle bells. We are just thrilled.”
Williams grew up in Murfreesboro, but she “never really appreciated the heart of Murfreesboro like I do today. It’s just awesome.”
“We’ve had such good feedback from the customers and the community and our neighbors up here on Square,” she said. “They’re just awesome people. This just feels right. God opened a door.”
Downtown visitors can also stop by Made in Murfreesboro to view photography Titus Bartos’ new gallery or drop into Pa Bunk’s Café & Natural Market for some organic goodies. Stick around for cocktails at Wall Street or 3 Brothers Deli & Brewhouse, or visit Liquid Smoke for a brew and a cigar.
And, of course, there’s shopping galore with all the fun boutiques located along every side of the Square.
There really is something for everyone downtown.