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All signs point to shopping locally in Carroll County this Christmas season [neighborhood]

FamilyThanksgivingConsumersChristmasBlack Friday (shopping)

Many believe that in recent years the mega-merger of the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons have conspired to make your life crazy. To make matters worse, this year Mother Nature and the calendar have joined the fray.

Just to make the holiday season even crazier, since Thanksgiving the weather has reminded us who is in charge with a one-two punch. First we had to deal with the cold temperatures, followed this week with back-to-back snow events that has made life difficult and traveling treacherous.

Moreover if you have that dread feeling that there are just not enough days to get everything finished in time for Christmas, you are not alone - and you have a good reason to feel that way.

This year even the calendar is working against you. Numerous business media accounts, including MarketWatch.com, have lamented that due to an odd turn in the calendar this year, Thanksgiving came late this year, resulting in fewer shopping days before Christmas.

Market Watch observed that there are "only 25 days between Black Friday and Christmas, compared with 31 last year-it's the lowest number of shopping days in a decade… What's more, there are only four full weekends to shop during that period this year, compared with five last year… That, plus less personalized customer service, may make this one of the more aggravating years for holiday shoppers."

All the more reason to shop locally in Westminster and Carroll County. You will save time and money, support your friends and neighbors, and help promote the local community. For quality merchandise, personalized friendly and helpful customer service, nothing can beat a locally owned store.

Westminster Mayor Kevin Utz agrees: "Getting a little stir crazy? If you can safely venture out, there is still time to shop local and get that perfect gift for your loved ones. Come downtown to see what our small businesses on Main [Street] have to offer!"

For many generations historic downtown Westminster's Main Street has maintained all the look and feel, history and tradition for making lasting Christmas memories.

According to research by Jay Graybeal and Mary Ann Ashcraft for the Historical Society of Carroll County: more 100 years ago, Schneeberger's Trade Palace, 33 East Main St advertised, "Our Store is filled from top to bottom with holiday goods… at such prices as will surprise even those who know the powerful bargain-providing ability of Schneeberger's Trade Palace - prices that will prove actual Christmas gifts to every purchaser; goods that will wear so long that they will be a perpetual reminder to the recipient of the bounteous nature of the donor."

In the 1890s, "Theo. Derr & Son offered dress goods, coats and wraps for ladies and children, shoes, hosiery... 'all at Special Prices for Christmas Week.'"

According to Ashcraft's research: "Matthews & Myers, located at 45 East Main Street 'nearly opposite Catholic Church,' politely encouraged holiday shoppers in 1893 with the invitation, 'Our Prices are no higher at this season…' The firm carried etchings, pastels, engravings and photo frames along with albums, toilet cases, manicure sets and a complete line of novelties…"

Ashcroft goes on: "A jewelry store owned by A. H. Wentz offered gold and silver watches, glasses, and 'everything in the jeweler's line.' U.L. Reaver's shop sold 'boots, shoes, hats, trunks, valises and umbrellas, suitable for holiday presents.' Prof. John T. Royer was the source for musical instruments and sheet music while A. C. Strasburger sold luxury items such as fine whiskies, wines, brandies, tobacco and cigars."

Today, in Westminster, starting at the west end of town; you can find everything from country food at Baugher's Restaurant to getting your hair and nails done at the Hairport on Pennsylvania Avenue, and finding arts and crafts at the Carroll Arts Council, the Hickory Stick, and Ain't that a Frame.

In the middle, you can find Santa Claus, bicycles, Giulianova Groceria & Italian Deli, Harry's Main Street, CUP Tea Bar & Café, Kountry Kafe & Katering, to Mexican groceries, and jewelry at Pomeroy's.

Or start at the other end of town with Birdie's Coffee Café and The Historical Society Shop at Cockey's. Westminster is really your one stop shopping experience.

When he is not doing his Christmas shopping on Main Street in Westminster, Kevin Dayhoff may be reached at kevindayhoff@gmail.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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