Downtown Gears Up for “Christmas in July” Sales Event – Mississippi’s Best Community Newspaper

BY MAIA BRONFMAN

The halls of downtown Natchez are overflowing with Christmas cheer this weekend.

Diane DuPont, chief executive of the Natchez Downtown Alliance, has scheduled the “Christmas in July” sales event for Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. to promote downtown businesses, many of which are new.

Some Main Street vendors have held a similar event in recent years, and DuPont said it sees an opportunity for expansion.

“I walked the sidewalks,” DuPont said of reaching out to storefronts downtown.

Since arriving at Natchez about three months ago to begin a new position with the Downtown Natchez Alliance and the National Main Street Association, she has tried to meet with all of the business owners personally.

“Everyone was very excited to participate,” Dupont said, “and wanted to do things in a cohesive way.”

There will be 17 participating merchants on Franklin, Main and Commerce streets, all offering specialty sales.

Lily Roberts, owner of Soiree Boutique at 505 Main St., said she hopes the event will boost sales of her summer inventory.

Soiree offers clothing, accessories and shoes for women that will be on sale, between 20% and 75% off.

“I hope this brings the downtown community together to shop locally,” Roberts said.

“This is our first big sale like this,” Roberts said. She became the owner in January and the shop has been open for seven years.

“Everyone should take advantage of the big sale; it only happens once a year,” she said.

The Natchez Olive Market at 636 Franklin St., another participating vendor, has only been open for about three months. Owners Sarah Beth Willard and Liza Sharp have been “foodies” for a long time.

Sharp is a chef with a penchant for fine oils and Willard is versed in charcuterie.

Together, they offer 46 balsamic oils and vinegars. Some oils are infused, with flavors like cayenne pepper, garlic, or blood orange, and others are non-infused and great for searing.

“A lot of people aren’t used to these kinds of products, or they have to travel out of town to get them,” Willard said of the wide range of products.

“We’re mostly excited to get people through the doors, given that we’re so new,” Willard said.

“It will be a good introduction for a lot of people who haven’t entered the store yet. We hope everyone will come and see the store and can use the products like we do,” she added.

Chesney Doyle, chairman of the board of the Downtown Natchez Alliance, said there’s a person and a story behind every business.

“They’re excited about the future and the plans we’re making and want to be part of it all.” said DuPont.

This fall will host October and Halloween-themed festivities, like a trick or treat more family-friendly for little feet.

In early September, at a date and time to be determined, a representative from the Main Street Association will host an open forum to answer questions about the types of funding and other opportunities that the recent Main Street designation will mean for Natchez.

“We’re trying to build relationships with landlords downtown, and it’s paying off,” DuPont said.

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