Opp stores open later tonight

Published 7:56 pm Thursday, December 11, 2008

Several Opp merchants will open their doors for extended hours tonight to spread a little holiday cheer for the “First Annual Christmas in Downtown Opp.”

The event began with a concentration of merchants along Covington Avenue in downtown Opp last year. Opp Chamber of Commerce executive director Tonitta Sauls said the event’s success led city officials to expand participation.

“Some of our merchants on Covington Avenue got together and did something similar to this event on their own last year,” Sauls said. “The event was very well received and it was brought to my attention that we needed to broaden it and make it more of a festival.”

Christmas carolers will also travel through downtown Opp, spreading spirit to patrons along the city streets. Santa and his helpers will be available for photos at a number of different merchant locations and parents are urged to bring their cameras.

Debi Richburg, owner of Debi & Company on Covington Avenue, said residents are urged to bring their children and pets to have photos taken with Santa beginning at 5 p.m.

”Everyone can bring their own camera to take pictures of their camera or pets. There will be no charge,” she said. “He is really holly and jolly and we feel children and pets will love him. We will have hot chocolate, apple cider and some smoothies.”

Richburg said her business participated in the event last year and is happy to open its doors again this year to help promote a greater sense of community and the importance shopping locally in Opp.

“It brings the community together like one family,” she said. “I enjoy seeing everyone gathering on the streets and celebrating the spirit of Christmas.”

Participating shops will remain open until 9 p.m. Patrons can register at all the different merchants for gift giveaways to be given away throughout the night and merchants will offer various discounts on merchandise and services.

Stephanie Rodgers, owner of Body Conscious, located just off the Florida Highway on Williams Road, said she sees the event as an opportunity to meet the community.

“It will bring the community together and help to promote the local businesses in our town,” Rodgers said. “If it is going to be cold and windy, then just let it snow and we will be fine.”