Downtown merchants will try to steal some of the national retailers' coming Black Friday thunder with a shopping fiesta Saturday, featuring Santa, musicians and roving food trucks.
"It's difficult for local retailers to compete with Black Friday deals, so we have to be creative and come up with different promotions," said Chris Hernandez, who operates his family-owned Krystal Jeans at 615 S. El Paso St.
That's why the Downtown Management District and the Central Business Association came up with the first Downtown Holiday Shop Fiesta, which will be centered on South El Paso Street from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.
Downtown merchants can't match the large national retailers' giant holiday advertising budgets, said Veronica Soto, executive director of the Downtown Management District. So the decision was made to do a pre-Black Friday event to entice El Pasoans to Downtown's 300 stores and restaurants before the Black Friday blitz begins, she said.
This year, many national retailers are beginning their Black Friday blockbusters on Thanksgiving night.
"It will be a street festival-like atmosphere and a holiday atmosphere as well," Soto said.
A choir singing Christmas carols, mariachis, a trio and a samba group will stroll El Paso Street and other areas, and a host of food trucks will be stationed along El Paso and Oregon streets. Artists will paint a holiday mural on the side of Krystal Jeans' building from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Stores are being encouraged to put up Christmas decorations and offer discounts.
Hernandez at Krystal Jeans said Downtown is different from the malls because most Downtown stores offer low prices every day, not just on special days. Even so, he and other merchants will be reducing some prices Saturday, he said.
Dennis Melonas, executive director of the Central Business Association, said about 18,000 people shop Downtown each week. Many shoppers come from Juárez, and the hope is to attract El Pasoans who usually don't go Downtown to shop, he said.
Santa Claus, relegated to El Paso's malls most Christmas shopping seasons, will be Downtown on Saturday at Starr Western Wear, 122 E. Overland, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Parents will be able to snap free photos of their kids with Santa instead of paying for the photos as is the case at the malls, said Edie Zuvanich, Starr Western Wear's marketing director.
"A local business can't really compete with a national retailer spending millions on advertising, but we have a lot of different things" not found at mall stores, Zuvanich said. Downtown has a local cultural flavor not found at the malls, she said.
"This is the first time we've had a (Christmas) shopping event Downtown," Zuvanich said. Arts events, the Christmas tree lighting and a posada are held Downtown, but those events are not centered on getting people to shop, she said.
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