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By Brittany Williams

Staff Writer

Main Street El Dorado and the Downtown Business Association are collaborating to spread holiday cheer and encourage “shopping small” during its annual Downtown Open House.

Businesses in downtown El Dorado will “showcase what they have for the holidays,” offering a unique opportunity for community members during the event, Main Street executive director Beth Brumley said.

“A lot of time people aren’t able to get downtown and shop in the evenings. The businesses are sometimes closed before they can get downtown so them being open on a Sunday from 1 to 4 is a great opportunity to see what’s available for them shop locally,” she said.

While several retailers will offer promotions during the event, Brumley said that she hopes Main Street’s retail promotion will encourage patrons to return to Union Square after Black Friday.

“Wherever they go downtown they’ll be able to pick up a passport,” she said. “Once they shop locally during the open house as they start buying stuff they can get a stamp from the businesses whether that’s a restaurant, retail shop, the place they get their hair done, the bank that they go to downtown, anybody will be able to do a stamp.”

Patrons who have a passport completed with eight stamps by Nov. 27 will be eligible to win one of many prizes that include concert $400 in cash, tickets for upcoming Murphy Arts District concerts, a charm bracelet valued at over $800 and a gas card. Completed passports must be turned into any downtown retailer or the Main Street office, according to the Main Street El Dorado agenda.

The “Holiday Passport” promotion will run through Saturday, which happens to fall on the same day as American Express’ nationwide Small Business Saturday campaign.

“Main Street El Dorado is partnering with American Express for the campaign, which encourages citizens to shop small businesses in local communities,” a Facebook post read.

American shoppers spent over $15 billion during Small Business Saturday last year, according to a study cited by Edward Haddock, the Small Business Administration’s Arkansas district director.

“When our small businesses do well, our communities do too,” Haddock said. “On the heels of Black Friday, shopping small is a concrete way to support small retailers — the same businesses that generate two of every three net new jobs and deliver essential goods and services to America’s communities 365 days a year.”

Main Street will start giving away free hot dogs and drinks at 1 p.m and the event will run through 4 p.m today. Santa will make an appearance at The Spot, she said.

“(Santa will) have candy canes, cookies and a little prize for the kids … We won’t be taking pictures, charging or anything. He’s just there to see the kids so they can bring their own phone or camera and take pictures,” Brumley said.

Downtown Open House will also be the last opportunity to enjoy free rides in a horse-drawn carriage and PJs Express Holiday Train. From then on rides will cost a “small fee,” she said.

During Main Street’s “Shop Small Saturday” event, shoppers who bring a passport with at least two stamps can get free gift wrapping from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday on the Union County Courthouse lawn. For more information, call the Main Street office at 870-862-4747.

Brittany Williams may be reached at 870-862-6611 or Follow her on Twitter and like her on Facebook @BWilliamsEDNT for updates on Union County school news.

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