BRISTOL, Tenn./Va. - It's been a tradition for so long that many don't know when it was started.
Downtown Bristol is hosting the annual open house Monday night to help kick off the holiday season. There are tons of things for visitors to do in downtown Bristol, from getting your picture taken with Santa to carolers roaming the streets.
The shops in downtown have been working for weeks to prepare themselves for the event. We spoke with a few about what they did to prepare and what their expectations were.
"Historically it's been a customer appreciation night where the merchants stay open late," explained Christinia Blevins with Believe In Bristol. She tells us it's a great time to get into the holiday spirit while also helping the local economy.
"That money goes into public schools, it goes into public transportation," she said. "It goes into a lot of the necessities that we as citizens get to enjoy."
But Blevins says this event isn't done overnight. "It's a lot of work for the merchants here in downtown," she explained.
Justin Booher works at the Blakely-Mitchell clothing store. "We're getting the windows decorated up with outfits for the seasons trend," he said.
Blakely-Mitchell has been open since 1933 and is one of the oldest stores in downtown. Booher says the open house was going on before they were in business, so they know what to expect. "You see a lot of people come through, a lot of customers that haven't been here in a few years," he said.
Owner of the Grind House coffee shop Samantha Mikesell tells us they don't see much commotion on Black Friday because of larger box stores, but this event allows them to still get Christmas sales without the big competition. "Because we're down here for open house, it really focuses on small business, which we are," she said. "We see more of a feedback from that."
Just Booher says regardless of what events are going on downtown, sales are never guaranteed. "You can never tell with retail. You never know what's gonna happen," he said.