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Merchants hopeful about shopping season

The Christmas shopping season has begun in Park Rapids. Shonda Finseth looks at Christmas merchandise in Olde Liberty Shoppe in downtown Park Rapids. Retailers are optimistic about shopping this season.

Park Rapids retailers are optimistic about this year's holiday shopping season.

"In meeting with the Downtown Business Association, the Christmas season looks good," said Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce director Katie Magozzi. "Merchants have enthusiasm."

Katie Kimball, owner of Olde Liberty Shoppe in downtown Park Rapids, said people have already been into her store buying merchandise for the holidays.

"We had a big holiday open house a couple weekends ago and lots of people showed up," she said.

Many people are buying Christmas merchandise in particular, she said.

Although she doesn't know what the shopping season will hold, she is optimistic.

"This will probably be the big weekend," Kimball said.

Shopper Shonda Finseth was browsing through Christmas merchandise in Olde Liberty Shoppe in downtown Wednesday. She was just shopping on her way through town, she said.

Michelle Brandes, who was visiting her parents for the Thanksgiving holiday, said she hadn't started Christmas shopping but plans to soon.

Magozzi emphasizes the importance of shopping locally.

"We've got a very positive town and a tremendous amount of loyalty," she said. "Our downtown is alive and well."

The annual Jingle Bells promotion is something that has helped keep people shopping in Park Rapids, Magozzi said.

Shoppers receive an entry ticket with every purchase of $10 at participating businesses. Double Jingle Bells tickets are being offered at many area stores on Fridays from 4 to 7 p.m. until the drawing for six cash prizes Dec. 18.

There will be one $5,000 cash winner and five $1,000 cash winners.

The shopping season has begun. Now, Kimball said Park Rapids just needs some snow to get people in the mood for Christmas.