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HAMILTONS DAY SPA had been open just six months when the first "Santa's Trail" was held in downtown Orange last year.
The response to the trail, which featured local merchants, was "fantastic," said Ginger Somerville, who owns the business in the Silk Mill building at 307A N. Madison Road. "We got a lot of new customers."
The day spa and 12 other shops, salons, an art center and museum are hoping for a similar response when the second annual Santa's Trail kicks off today. Organized by the Orange Downtown Alliance, it aims to increase awareness of the city's small businesses.
"With everybody shopping out of town and on the Internet, part of what we're doing is getting people to realize that there are a lot of dedicated merchants here who appreciate their business," said Jeff Curtis, director of the nonprofit organization.
Participating businesses will hand out cards that show the trail--actually a map of downtown marked with their locations. Shoppers who stop at each place can get their cards stamped. If they drop off completed cards at any of the 13 businesses by Dec. 20, they'll be entered in a drawing on Dec. 21 for a holiday gift basket worth $1,000.
"Orange merchants saw a lot of new faces that turned into returning customers throughout the following year," said event chairwoman Linda Boudreaux Montgomery, who owns Corner House Gallery at 173 W. Main St. "So to us, Santa's Trail was a huge success!
"Between 600 and 700 people 'walked the trail' up and down Main Street during the month of December, and we're hoping to increase our number by 100 people this year," she said.
Beggars Banquet, a catering business with a wine and gourmet food shop at 112 May Fray Ave., had a "slow but good" response during last year's trail, said co-owner Currey Hay.
"Any response is a good response when you're in
Shoppers who visit downtown Orange Saturday can also stop in several stores for their holiday open houses.
They include Orange Pharmacy, 130 W. Main St., which will hold one from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Beggars Banquet, which will hold one from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and Shabby Love, 112 E. Main St., which will hold one from
Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407