Schenectady’s downtown businesses are getting a showcase just in time for the holiday shopping season.
The ninth annual Downtown Schenectady Holiday Open House kicks off today at noon and runs until 5 p.m. The event features businesses along Jay Street, Union Street, North Broadway, South Ferry Street and State Street, which will be offering refreshments, activities, sales and contests. The day culminates with a tree lighting ceremony at the corner of State and Jay streets.
Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corporation Executive Director Jim Salengo described the event as a great way to introduce people to all the downtown options.
All afternoon the Holly Jolly Union College Trolley will be giving free rides, with stops including State Street and Jay Street, the Stockade Neighborhood Holiday Tree and Union College Chapel Circle.
Outside the Schenectady City Hall there will be free horse-drawn carriage rides and inside there will be photos with Santa Claus, kids’ crafts and musical performances.
A full list of participating businesses and details about promotions in conjunction with the event can be found at www.downtownschenectady.org.
This was reiterated by Richard Mare, owner of Downtown Designs on Jay Street, who said that although he’s been in his location three and a half years, people are still just discovering his shop.
“I think anything that gives an incentive for people to come out and see what [local retailers] have is a good idea,” said Mare. “We don’t get a lot of people down here without an event.”
His shop, which offers nostalgia with a twist, will be offering some specials. Additionally, they’ll be giving away cookies and champagne. Mare said he hopes people will shop, but anything to expand awareness will be good.
The Open Door Bookstore will be offering a 20 percent discount on all holiday items and will be hosting a tasting by the Stonewall Kitchen.
Downtown Designs and Open Door Bookstore will also be participating in the three big events of the day, which are the holiday shopping pass, the buy local and give local gift drive, and the holiday window decorating contest.
To participate in the shopping pass program, just record at least $150 in local purchases on a special card and a person can enter to win a $250 Downtown Schenectady shopping spree or tickets to a show at Proctors.
The give local drive encourages shoppers to purchase something extra to donate to the City Mission of Schenectady’s Bridges to Freedom program and the YWCA Northeastern New York’s Persimmon Project. Participating businesses will have a special drop box for gifts.
Participants will also have a chance to vote for the best decorated storefront window. This friendly competition will be decided by popular vote, which can be submitted at the DSIC office at 143 State St.
At 1 p.m. the holiday Cash Mob will kick off, with the first 50 people who spend at least $20 in a downtown business winning a pair of Proctors movie passes. Participants must check in at a table near the center of the Jay Street Marketplace.
The event is supported by Townsquare Media, KeyBank, Times Union, the city of Schenectady and the Schenectady County Legislature.