City commission recognizes downtown storefronts getting into holiday spirit

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 7, 2019

By Liz Moomey

SALISBURY — Nutcrackers, wreaths and Christmas trees, oh my.

Members of the Community Appearance Commission toured downtown Salisbury on Friday looking for the best holiday decorations in storefronts.

For the past 15 years, the commission has recognized the best overall holiday decorations, along with the best nighttime display. Members also have brainstormed new categories. This year, they thought about honoring the best display by a nonprofit organization, the most chic display or the best new business display.

For two hours Friday morning, Community Appearance Commission members toured the downtown area, taking notes on Fine Frame Gallery’s North Pole-themed display that included snow, wreaths hanging on every window at Oxford+Lee, and a tree with a top hat at Griffin’s Guitars.

Commission member Jessica Cloward took in South Main Street Variety, at 205 S. Main St., calling the display cute and a great way to show what the store is selling. The display included Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus.

Commission member Lewellen Padgett said the decorations on South Main Street made her want to go holiday shopping.

Commission Chairwoman Jane Creech looked at Anna Craig Boutique, at 100 W. Innes St., with its two nutcrackers, lights and giant ornaments. She said she liked the pop of energy.

Commission member Chris McNeely stopped at Oxford+Lee and said it was a lovely sight to see. The 106 E. Innes St. shop had a transformation in the past year, Padgett said.

As they shopped at various businesses on Main Street, Innes Street, Council Street and Fisher Street, Cloward asked, “How do you choose one? They are so creative.”

Creech said this year’s holiday decoration tour and awards was special for her. She can tell more businesses are putting in the effort to decorate their storefronts and make downtown more attractive.

“This year has been the most gratifying, I think, because over the years we have seen these empty buildings and now we’re seeing new businesses,” Creech said. “We’re seeing some that are still empty but they have used their windows for nonprofits or for showcasing. That has just been rewarding to see that evolve over the last few years.”

Through a partnership between Downtown Salisbury Inc. and the commission and with decorator Weston Ewart’s help, the effort to decorate vacant businesses’ storefronts has grown. Last year, only the Empire Hotel had holiday displays; now there are 15 displays across downtown.

Alyssa Nelson, the commission’s city staff liaison, said the goal a year ago was to encourage more attractive storefronts, especially in vacant buildings. 

In the 15 years of the holiday decorations awards, commission members said they have enjoyed going around downtown taking in all the storefronts

Member Levonia Corry said not only do they get to look at holiday decorations but they meet a lot of business owners.

McNeely said it has allowed him to take his time to see all of what downtown has to offer.

“If you slow down and walked through the downtown, it’s amazing that you’ll see something that you haven’t seen before,” he said.

Creech appreciates those who put in the effort to make their storefronts appealing and attractive. She said it encourages downtown visitors to go inside the stores. She particularly enjoys seeing how each store celebrates the holidays.

“It creates an atmosphere of the city that is holiday festive and brings excitement and holiday spirit,” Creech said. “Every shop is unique. They put their own special spin on integrating what their business is with the season. It’s just a creative expression of who they are and what they are.”

After touring downtown, the commission members went to lunch to discuss their favorites and come up with categories for the year. They will decide some of the winners, but they had a little homework to do by venturing out to see the decorations at night.

They came up with tentative award titles, including best holiday branding, most magnetic new business, best traditional Christmas display and best nonprofit display.

In 2018, Maision Monroe took the overall award. The previous year, the winner was Lora Bell.