Holiday Open House start festive season

Many early bird shoppers broke out the holiday gift wrap this past weekend during the Holiday Open House in downtown Wapakoneta. 
“I enjoy seeing all the Christmas things they have out this time of year,” Cheryl Bailey, of Wapakoneta, said while “out on the town” with a group of friends. “You might just find some good bargains, too.”
Bailey and her friends browsed Casa Chic’s new holiday goods after having lunch at The tSpot. 
The open house was sponsored by Wapakoneta Antique and Specialty Shops (WASS), a 19-year-old partnership of shop owners in Wapakoneta.
“It is a great organization for all the shop owners,” WASS President Landa Tomlinson said. “This is our big event of the year.”
Tomlinson described the open house as a “Christmas and holiday preview,” as all of the WASS shops were featuring their holiday decorations and gifts.
Tomlinson said the open house attracts visitors from afar to start their holiday shopping. 
“Wapakoneta is a great place for people from Michigan and Kentucky to come together,” Tomlinson said. 
The Decorative Arts Committee of the  Downtown Wapakoneta  Partnership has installed the new snowflake lights, along with other holiday decorations in the downtown area for the open house. 
Keeping in the holiday spirit, horse-drawn carriage rides were available to the public downtown, and classic Christmas tunes played over the downtown sound system while shoppers got their first look at this year’s featured holiday gifts.
“The open house brings people into town,” Relics owner Michele Shicora
said. “It really gets them in the spirit.”
Shicora said she had two busy days to take down her Halloween and fall decorations after the Halloween parade and replace them with the winter decorations. 
While challenging, Shicora said the open house brings in a lot of customers and kicks off the holiday season’s sales. 
“It’s good for business,” Shicora said. “This brings in a lot of people the next week.”
Shircora said the open house allows for first-time customers to enter the shop and become repeat customers after noticing items they liked.
Many shoppers came to the open house in the Christmas spirit, while others were searching for hidden “gems.”
“We’re looking for a good find,” Donna Peters, of Lima, said.
Peters and her friend Paula Benfer, who is visiting from Minnesota, were searching the downtown shops for treasures.
“We’ve been antiquing friends for 28 years,” Benfer said. 
The two friends visited the Auglaize Antique Mall — their findings varying “from book ends to bowls.”
“There’s been a little bit of everything in the whole town,” Peters said. “It’s been fun.”
They said they were heading to Cloud Nine Cafe for the first time after finishing their antique hunt.