A special preview of the Christmas shopping season, which is often an important boost to small, locally owned businesses, is planned in downtown Winnsboro Thursday, Nov. 17, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The local event will serve as a prelude to annual Christmas festivities which include The Wellspring’s Christmas tree Lighting on Nov. 29, and the Children’s Parade on Dec. 1 and nighttime Christmas Parade on Dec. 2 sponsored by the Winnsboro-Franklin Chamber of Commerce.
Merchants in Winnsboro’s Historic District are inviting shoppers to “shop local” before they consider traveling to neighboring towns or go online. The event is hosted by Winnsboro Main Street.
Other special holiday shopping events are in the planning stages.
Sam Sheppard, who serves as Winnsboro Main Street director and Franklin Parish Economic Development Coordinator, encourages everyone to take advantage of what is offered here.
“Downtown Winnsboro has so much charm and character that makes for such an enjoyable experience,” Sheppard said. “Our local businesses have been busy decking the halls with the best items for gift-giving this holiday season.”
She encourages Franklin Parish residents to support local business owners.
“It’s so important to shop local and support these people who have chosen Franklin Parish as their business home. I encourage you to support all local businesses. From our restaurants to retailers, and everything in between, they are important to our local economy and need our support,” Sheppard said. “I love visiting each one and I know you will too if you are looking for great gifts, treats, toys and more. Come see what they have in store. Support local and enjoy the merriment of our local Main Street and Franklin Parish Community”
Local small businesses downtown and in surrounding Franklin Parish communities, who provide employment opportunities and are directly involved in those communities, depend on the support of their friends and neighbors to stay in business.
Tax dollars generated through local sales and businesses help support the Franklin Parish School system, law enforcement, services for the elderly, parish road maintenance and municipal operations.
In 2021, more than $16 million dollars in sales tax dollars were generated in the parish thanks to business endeavors, according to Rick Berry, sales tax director for Franklin Parish. And Berry said this year the numbers are expected to increase somewhat, with $14,364,764 collected to-date since January, and collections for the remainder of the year yet to be reported.
“Shopping local makes a great difference in our communities. Our local businesses drive our economy through job creation, local economic stimulus, more tax dollars for local government and also provide a unique and personal experience,” Chamber President David Rigdon said.
“Our local businesses often have products you don’t find elsewhere. Another great option is to purchase gift certificates that can be used locally. A gift certificate can create a local customer for life, with repeat purchases for years to come,” he added.
Wade Walley, who owns Every Occasion, the longest-running retail business in the Historic District, said support for local businesses in turn means those businesses have the means to support local endeavors.
“Without the support of local customers, local businesses cannot in turn support such things as youth sports teams, school projects, community improvement projects and charitable endeavors,” Walley said.
Such things as the upcoming tree lighting event and parades not only provide an opportunity for the community to gather to celebrate the season, but also help bring attention to what is available here.
“We are very excited for the annual Christmas parades. The nighttime parade has become a favorite Chamber event and a great way to kick off the Christmas season,” Rigdon said about the upcoming events.
Donations sought for Tree Lighting
The Wellspring’s Christmas Tree Lighting event which will take place at Patriot Square in downtown Winnsboro on Nov. 29 will begin with a chili cook-off at 5:30 p.m., feature refreshments and musical entertainment and conclude with the lighting of the Christmas tree and cards which line La. Hwy. 15 along Front Street.
Donations help provide aid to families affected by Domestic violence.
Anyone interested in chili cook-off or sponsoring lights can call (318) 412-0226, or visit wellspringofnela.org.
Parade entries sought
The Chamber is looking for local businesses or groups interested in entering a float in the nighttime Christmas Parade set to take place at 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 2. If you want to take part in the parade, call the Winnsboro-Franklin Parish Chamber of Commerce, 435-4488, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The parade will wind through downtown Winnsboro following the customary route. A fireworks display will top off the evening.
Youngsters taking part in the Children’s Parade on Thursday, Dec. 1, the night before, are asked to be at the parking lot behind Princess Theatre at 5:30 p.m. to line up. Bikes, trikes and wagons should be decorated with battery-powered lights.
The children’s parade will begin at 6 p.m. at K&S Drugs, go downtown and end at the Old Post Office Museum where Santa is expected to pay a visit, and cookies and hot chocolate will be sponsored by White Ford after the parade.