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Open House kicks off season

The weather outside was frightful Sunday, but retailers were hoping that the buying season will be brighter this holiday season.

Sunday kicked off the holiday season with the annual Holiday Open House, when downtown merchants that normally don’t open on Sunday were hoping to garner more sales than last year.

Most of them said it was too early to see how shoppers will respond from the recession.

“It’s been horrible,” said Sharon Jeter of The Sharon House antique store in the Bon Air. Things have been so slow for her this past year that she is having to down-size her retail space, trying to save money in rent.

Jeter did say that things have seemed to pick up lately, and two women from Atlanta recently visited her shop and said the retail climate in Atlanta was booming. Jeter hopes it will trickle down to Bainbridge.

Down a couple of doors, Priscilla Whittaker at Polka Dots said they had some sales shortly after opening on Sunday.

“We had a very good turnout. We’ve had some sales already,” Whittaker said.

She thought the majority of shoppers are looking and waiting until after Thanksgiving to start buying Christmas gifts. She also thought shoppers will buy less expensive gifts.

“We have a lot of gifts under $20, and I think that’s going to help a lot,” Whittaker said.

Linda Stringer and Rhonda Lee, both from Cairo, came to downtown Bainbridge to do some shopping on Sunday.

“I’m just looking today,” Stringer said. “I don’t spend a ton on Christmas,” adding that she normally just spends a little for grandchildren. She said she plans to spend the same as she has in previous years.

Lee said her spending habits for the holidays are not being dictated by the economy.

Besides, she said she’s already received her Christmas gift—surviving cancer.