Downtown Knoxville gears up for holiday celebrations, shoppers

Downtown Knoxville gears up for holiday celebrations, shoppers

Posted:
It's expected to be a big Christmas season for downtown retailers. It's expected to be a big Christmas season for downtown retailers.
"It reminds me of how I used to shop as a little girl in New Jersey. I love the old-fashionedness of the town," said Dianne Febinger, a New Jersey resident visiting her daughter in Knoxville. "It reminds me of how I used to shop as a little girl in New Jersey. I love the old-fashionedness of the town," said Dianne Febinger, a New Jersey resident visiting her daughter in Knoxville.
"The move seems to be going towards retail, getting people back to the square, more of the center of downtown," said Taylor Payne, a manager at River Sports Outfitters. "The move seems to be going towards retail, getting people back to the square, more of the center of downtown," said Taylor Payne, a manager at River Sports Outfitters.

By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The City of Knoxville is preparing to kick off Christmas in the City on Black Friday.  

It's expected to be a big Christmas season for downtown retailers. On Wednesday there were plenty of shoppers getting an early start.  

"It's not a crowded place like the mall. It's easier to come to," said Sevierville resident Jessica Gavlon.

For many, Christmas shopping in downtown Knoxville is a unique experience, since there are mostly small stores and boutiques with few big box stores or chains.

"It reminds me of how I used to shop as a little girl in New Jersey. I love the old-fashionedness of the town," said Dianne Febinger, a New Jersey resident visiting her daughter in Knoxville.

City leaders said more people continue to shop downtown around the holiday season.  New restaurants and shops in Market Square and Union Avenue are one reason.

"It's the shopping, but it's the whole Christmas experience is what we're banking on, having folks come downtown," said Rick Emmett, City of Knoxville downtown coordinator.

Emmett expects Christmas in the City to attract even more shoppers downtown.

Businesses are trying to capitalize on some of those crowds. River Sports Outfitters recently opened its second store in Market Square.

"The move seems to be going towards retail, getting people back to the square, more of the center of downtown," said Taylor Payne, a manager at River Sports Outfitters. 

Some stores are offering Black Friday sales while others like Mast General Store are already attracting bigger crowds, even before Thanksgiving.  

"We get a lot of people that are getting ready to leave for the holiday or leave for the week, and they'll usually come Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday before the holiday," said Jim Richards, general manager of Mast General Store.  

No matter when they come, the Knoxville shopping experience is attracting those who may have forgotten about downtown.    

"I actually never used to come down here because there was nothing here, so I'm totally amazed at how many shops there are," said Shannon Greene, a Washington D.C. native who grew up in Maryville.  

Knoxville's Christmas in the City celebration for 2012 will kick off with the opening of the ice skating rink in Market Square at 10:00 a.m. A ribbon cutting will be held at 4:00 p.m.

On the same day at 5:30 p.m., in Krutch Park Extension, Mayor Madeline Rogero will join other local officials to celebrate the naming of Gay Street as one of the ten "Great Streets" in America by the American Planning Association.

Then at 6:00 p.m., Mayor Rogero will lead the annual tree-lighting ceremony, also in Krutch Park Extension, that begins the Regal Celebration of Lights.

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