NEWBURYPORT — The economy isn't slowing down business in downtown Newburyport this holiday season, as shop and boutique owners, starting to prepare for the annual Winter Invitation Nights, are expecting this year to be busier than ever.
Stores that have participated before are used to the routine and are perfecting their annual festive foods and ciders; newer ones are looking forward to seeing what it's all about and are adding their own flair to the event.
The Invitation Nights on Fridays Dec. 4 and Dec. 11 are an opportunity for locals and people from surrounding areas to walk and stroll around downtown. People can go into all the stores, which will be offering discounted prices as well as food and drink.
Partridge in Bear Tree shop owner Kevin Riley said he thinks there is just something special about the event.
"I think Invitation Nights are fantastic. People seem to love coming. The atmosphere is electrifying. It really becomes magical down here," he said.
Riley has participated in Invitation Nights for years and said he has had a very busy season so far. He plans to be serving the same champagne punch that in past years has caused lines of people out the door.
Newcomer to the Market Square area, Keepsakes, a jewelry store that moved in on July 1, will be participating in the event for the first time, and owner Matt Khatib said he is excited to be joining in with the community.
"I think it's a phenomenal idea. It's one of the reasons we moved here because of all the activities throughout the year downtown like Invitation Night and the parades," Khatib said.
Khatib said that when he asked customers about the event, they seemed excited for it, and he plans to add to that excitement. Both nights, Khatib will be showcasing what he calls "The Million Dollar Diamond Event."