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Santa to ring in downtown holiday shopping and events in Traverse City

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The official start to the holiday shopping season in downtown Traverse City arrives at the end of the Light Parade on Nov. 18 when Santa receives the key to the city and sets up his temporary house in Rotary Square.

Buoyed by an earlier Thanksgiving weekend (Thanksgiving lands on Nov. 23 in 2023), there’s an extra week of shopping for the holiday season. That’s good news for shoppers and their lists as the Downtown Development Authority has a flurry of events on the calendar to attract more people to the 150 stores, galleries and boutiques that call Traverse City home.

“Downtown Traverse City is 95% locally, independently owned,” said Harry Burkholder, chief operating officer of the Downtown Development Authority. “When you come downtown and shop downtown, you’re supporting Traverse City.”

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Shopping small and keeping local businesses thriving is the backdrop for multiple weekends of promotions to ensure that no one is left off the shopping list this year.

Parking remains accessible downtown for shoppers and holiday revelers. Updated technology in a newly reconfigured parking deck and multiple parking structures within walking distance of shopping areas ensure that shoppers can drop off packages at their vehicle while remaining downtown.

Mark the calendar for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday

Expect sales, deals and extra reasons to shop on Black Friday (Nov. 24) and Small Business Saturday (Nov. 25). Busy stores will be stocked with local and holiday fare to make sure that shoppers go home with their packages instead of hoping for on-time arrival from online retailers.

This year marks the 14th season of Small Business Saturday, which was created by American Express to promote shopping local during the holidays.

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“Businesses have a variety of promotions that weekend,” said Abby Taylor, the downtown experience coordinator for the DDA. “It is usually a pretty busy weekend for everyone with more people downtown and more people shopping.”

After last year’s post-Thanksgiving shopping weekend, American Express released the results of its 2022 Small Business Saturday® Consumer Insights Survey. It showed that nearly three-quarters of shoppers (72%) “strongly agree” to continue shopping small to keep money in their own communities.

Themed shopping nights bring events, live music

Residents headed downtown can kick off their weekend of shopping with one of two themed experiences as Ladies Night (Dec. 7) and Men’s Night (Dec. 14). Shoppers can take advantage of specialized sales or experiences, and there will be filled with live music and carolers.

“A lot of the stores are doing sales and handing out little goodies throughout the whole day, too. So, if you can’t make the hours between 5-9, there are still opportunities to find deals and have fun all day. We’ll have more information about sale opportunities on our website.”

Meanwhile, Santa will remain in his Traverse City headquarters throughout the shopping season. Santa’s House will be in Rotary Square and open Thursdays to Sundays beginning with the Light Parade and continuing through Dec. 24.

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