Posted on: November 8, 2021 Posted by: Ariel Tattum Comments: 0

WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) – The River District Holiday Open House Weekend begins Friday, November 5 in time to kick off the holiday shopping season. Businesses will be open at regular hours, but many feature new holiday merchandise and decorations, with special deals and even an anniversary celebration at Blackash.

Starting holiday shopping now allows for more chances to find all of the gifts needed, especially as supply chains are sure to cause shortages later in the season. Supporting local merchants also helps make sure downtown areas thrive economically.

“We are Midwest made, and at the front of our shops you can see the pictures of the makers so you can put a face to who makes the products that you’re purchasing, so between our two locations we showcase over 80 Midwest makers, so you’re definitely making a difference and an impact when you shop with us,” said Alison Magnuson, owner of Local.

Small businesses especially felt the burden of reduced in-store shopping during the pandemic, but Wausau’s merchants embraced the increased trend toward online options.

“One of the things we’ve seen is the importance of online platforms, so during this past couple of years, our small businesses have seen what potential there is for having an online storefront. So a lot of them have taken advantage of that and now have options for you and other community members to shop online and support local businesses,” said River District Executive Director Blake Opal-Wahoske.

Another store that has felt the burden of shortages is Evolutions in Design. Friday the store revealed its Christmas store-front display. It had people lining up waiting to get it. But the owner said he’s still waiting on pallets of boxes to come in that were supposed to be here back in June.

“We just got a phone call right before we opened that we have three pallets coming on Monday that were supposed to be here in May, luckily most of it showed up, but there’s still some more that’s coming,” store owner, Randy Verhasselt said.

That’s one of the reasons why the River District said shopping locally may be better this year.

“I’m sure many of us have already seen if you are ordering stuff online, you’re going to be getting that around Thanksgiving at this point, so get out here, shop locally if you can, and shop early,” Opal-Wahoske said.

Despite the delays for Evolutions in Design, Randy said people can still experience the shop for what it’s known for. “It’s just a really good feeling because the people that come here they come here for the experience and they come to see us and they’ve become our friends.”

Some of those friends may even turn into workers because of the nationwide worker shortage. “It’s challenging and if we get into a little pinch, you know we just give a call and we’re like ‘hey we really need some extra help this weekend,’ so it works out well,” Randy said. “After 24 years of doing this, it really has unified over the last few years, and it’s a good feeling being part of a community.”

Even if you browse online, you can check out the goods in person by visiting the open house. There are a variety of businesses participating. Some of those include Evolutions in Design, Shepherd and Schaller Sporting Goods, Ginny’s Antiques, 319 Bistro, The Local, 319 Gallery, Isaac’s Fine Apparel, Campbell Haines Menswear, Janke Bookstore, Terradea Salon and Spa, and many more.

Click here to see all of the participating businesses and what deals and specials you can find.

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