If seeing Santa and Mrs. Claus isn't enough to make staying in town over the holidays appealing, the Downtown Business Association's spirit might be the key.
Beginning Friday, most downtown merchants will participate in a series of events geared toward making shopping in the historic district convenient, affordable and an experience worth more than the tank of gas to get out of town.
In uncertain economic times, some local business owners are surprised to see holiday shoppers reflect on how spending locally might impact the area's bottom line, but they still plan to offer plenty of alternatives to out-of-town purchases.
"I've heard a lot of people saying that they are shopping locally this year because they know how important sales tax dollars are to city and county budgets," said Nadine Dazskiewicz, owner of the Kitchen said.
Participating businesses will open early, stay open late, offer tax-free shopping hours and collect canned goods and money for the annual KRAI FM holiday drive.
The importance of keeping local dollars local is only a small part of why gifts purchased in Craig will satisfy even the most finicky recipient.
"We love old stuff," said Sherri Fredrickson, owner of Favorite Things. "We really love changing things, so we always have a variety to choose from."
Fredrickson opened her store in May after she saw a need to provide a "little bit of everything" to her residents.
"We now have booths in the basement, which was never open before," Fredrickson said. "Different dealers rent the space and sell their items. It's really gone over well."
Although much of the merchandise in Favorite Things comes from locals, the store takes consignments and Fredrickson takes frequent buying trips to provide unique items to her customers.
Mary Kay Sherman, owner of The Giving Tree, will spend her first Christmas in Craig as a business owner and did her best to provide enough holiday-related merchandise to keep Christmas fantatics happy while beefing up her regular stock of jewelry and other gift items.
"Snowmen have been really big forever," she said, "but the trend this year is toward the primitive collections."
Sherman said her store offers a variety of tastes from cutesy and primitive to lodge and western, and she offers weekly incentives for her customers.
At the Kitchen Shop, Daszkiewicz said that this year's hot trends include bar stuff, eclectic items and food products.
"People must be entertaining more," she said. "Cocktail shakers, olives, martini glasses and pretty much anything to do with bar drinks is really hot," she said.
Daskiewicz has also sold out of a special coca wrapped in a cellophane cone and is nearly out of handmade candy canes from the United States' last handmade candy cane manufacturer -- Hammond's Candies.
If shopping isn't the only item on the holiday agenda, the Downtown Business Association is also hosting the first-ever handmade ornament contest. All ornaments must be handmade and dropped off at the Community Budget Center by Dec. 19. Judging will take place Dec. 20 and all ornaments will be displayed on Christmas trees in the Budget Center display windows. The overall winner will receive a gift basket donated by the downtown merchants.
No matter what activity one chooses to participate in, there are prizes galore.
"We have lots of cash prizes." Daszkiewicz said. "The car dealers each chipped in $200, and KRAI will give away $50 for the best sound (during the parade of lights)."
Samantha Johnston can be reached at 824-7031 or by e-mail at email@example.com.