Beginning to Look a Lot Like ...

By: Damon Dillman
By: Damon Dillman

Last year, Staunton businesses decided to open their Sunday doors before the holiday rush. And it seemed to work. Now, for people in search of something to do on Sundays, some art galleries are also providing some options.

Last month, some Staunton art galleries started opening their doors for the first Sunday of the month. Beverly Street Studio Instructor Mary Echols likes the idea.

"It was wonderful. We had a big crowd, and we were really happy with it. A lot of people with young children coming in pushing strollers, and toddlers, and young people from the college," says Echols.

Called "First Sundays," the second string of open houses took place Sunday, Oct. 5. The purpose is to give people something to do on Sunday afternoons.

"It's a quiet day. People go to church, they want something to eat, then they want to wander around downtown, walk through the streets, look at things. The people that I've talked to have found that it's really good. It's really meeting a need," notes Echols.

Downtown businesses are joining the galleries - at least through December. This is the second year many stores are extending business to Sundays for holiday shoppers. Owners say last year's experiment was a success. Pen and Paper owner Patsy Wilson says it may not have brought in new shoppers, but rather the regulars.

"People who normally would have shopped on a Wednesday or a Thursday came in on a Sunday instead. But they probably caught some sales that they wouldn't have gotten," says Wilson.

Wilson says there isn't enough demand to stay open on Sundays beyond the holidays. But she's optimistic that "First Sundays" will help her and other downtown businesses.

"We're hoping that it's going to be good for us. We're just in a wait-and-see-type mode. I don't think it will hurt us. I think it will bring more people downtown. It's bound to help us. Anything that brings more people downtown, especially local people, would be nice," says Wilson.

The next series of "First Sundays" open houses will be held Nov. 22. Wilson says businesses will be open every Sunday until Christmas.

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