On Court Street alone, there are more than 10 gift shops and clothing stores. On weekends, shoppers and their foot traffic fill the streets. Many establishments will close and open according to the schedule of Ohio University. As the holiday season approaches, businesses are gearing up and starting to advertise their sales. Many Athens businesses won’t have any Black Friday sales, but instead will deck the streets of Athens in holiday cheer.
Some stores, like The Other Place, stay open year-round. Other stores, like 10 West Clothing Co., have closed in the past during Thanksgiving break and winter break.
Abby Swintek, an OU student studying communication, is an employee at 10 West Clothing Co., located at 10 W Union St.
“During the week I see more students out and about in between classes,” Swintek said. “And then a lot of the times, I’m usually the one here on Saturday and that will be when townies are in. Or I see a lot of groups of alumni visiting on the weekend.”
Seasonal shopping does, in a way, counteract not wanting to be out and about due to weather. Swintek said although the cold weather may keep many potential shoppers away, many do tell her they are shopping for Christmas.
“I feel like the people that we’re getting right now are shopping for Christmas,” Swintek said. “Otherwise people don’t want to shop right now because it’s so cold.”
Christmastime and the time of celebration do give many students a reason to go out and spend money on presents for family. Lindsay Lafferty, a senior studying retail merchandising and fashion product development and an employee at The Other Place, though sees the opposite of the season. People don’t seem to be shopping as much.
“I honestly think that has to do with what’s happening at OU,” Lafferty said. “For example, we had three big weekends in a row. That has a lot to do with money, so I feel like a lot of students don’t have money to spend right now. Students might be waiting on Black Friday sales.”
The Other Place, located at 43 S Court St., will be holding Black Friday sales on items like sweaters and jewelry.
Some of the bigger times for shopping in Athens, though, are not always the holidays. The special weekends that bring alumni, parents, prospective students and current students to walk around the town are what creates business many times.
“During Dads Weekend and Parents Weekend, those are our big weekends, and most importantly Mom’s Weekend,” Lafferty said.
Celia Summers, an employee at Mountain Laurel Gifts for 20 years, disagrees a little.
“Moms Weekend is great, but December is the best,” she said.
In Athens style, no holiday goes on without a celebration. The Athens Uptown Business Association holds a town celebration for the coming holiday season that incorporates the merchants.
“We do this thing where the total Uptown Business Association does a complete kick-off for the holiday season,” Summers said. “With the lighting of the tree lights, and there’s Santa’s house up there. They do wagon rides. I paint faces in here with somebody else who works. A lot of the different merchants like to decorate cookies or do something.”
The Athens Uptown Business Association will kick off its Uptown for the Holidays celebration one week after Thanksgiving, on Nov. 29.