SANDWICH – Instead of dressing up in costume and handing out candy on Halloween, Ronda Frantz was decorating Christmas trees and setting up snowmen.
Frantz is the owner of Bittersweets, a home décor store in Sandwich, and the treasurer of the Sandwich Association of Merchants.
The association will present its Christmas open houses Saturday, Nov. 3.
Eleven shops will participate in the event: Bittersweets, Sandwich Antique Mart, The Rusty Rooster, Maggie’s Da Ja Vu, Olde Timers Antique Center, Prindi’s Antique Mall, Complete Consignment, Vintage Farmgirls, Farmer’s Daughter, Storehouse II Reusable Treasures and JR Antiques and Collectibles.
“Most of the shops in town already had holiday open houses this weekend, so we advertised together and joined forces to get the word out,” Frantz said. “The next two weekends are the busiest for shopping and then it picks up even more after Thanksgiving.”
Frantz said there’s always mixed feelings about early Christmas events.
“Some people are ready for it, they love Christmas and can’t wait to celebrate and decorate,” she said. “But others say that we’re rushing it, it’s too early. Other stores have had Christmas out for more than two months already. We have to stay competitive.”
Sharon Maroo, president of the Sandwich Association of Merchants and co-owner of the Sandwich Antique Mart, said this is her busiest time of year for customers.
“After Halloween, early November, is the starting point,” Maroo said. “Christmas is my favorite holiday. I love the anticipation of the people. I love decorating, and we do it to please the customers.”
Becky Kukuk, the other co-owner of the Sandwich Antique Mart, said their shop has been hosting Christmas open house events for about 30 years.
“Each year, the event seems to grow,” she said. “People always love to shop right before Christmas, and then after Christmas, we have a sale day.”
Sandwich Antique Mart will keep its Christmas decorations up until its sale day, while decorations at Bittersweets will be up until mid-January, when items are moved to a sale room.
“I like Christmas not only because I love the decorating, but because everyone seems to be in a better mood,” Frantz said. “They’re out spending the day together, buying gifts for friends and loved ones.
“Sandwich is an awesome place to shop,” she said. “There’s something for everyone, from resale to consignment to antiques. You never know what you’re going to find. It’s nice just to come out, spend the day shopping, relaxing and having lunch.”
Another upcoming Christmas shopping event is the Christmas in the Country craft fair from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 10 and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 11 at Sandwich schools. The $3 admission benefits the Sandwich Band Parents Association. Shuttle service is provided and no strollers are allowed.
A Sandwich Christmas, hosted by the Sandwich Area Chamber of Commerce and the Sandwich Park District, will take place Dec. 1, and 2. The event will feature the Kris Kringle Craft and Home Business Show and Festival of Trees at the Sandwich Fairgrounds. The tree-lighting ceremony will be at 4:30 p.m. Dec. 1 in Veterans Park . There also will be a trolley tour of decorated homes and a Christmas village with Santa Claus.
“It’s really important to hold events like this to bring people out in the community,” said Geri Benning, executive director of the Sandwich Area Chamber of Commerce. “It gets people excited for the season and the holidays. It brings a lot of festive, joyous energy into the community.”