Darien's gearing up for the holiday season with Black Friday sales, holiday magic, the annual tree lighting and extended holiday hours.
"I go in and out of the stores all the time and everybody's getting a lot of stock in for Christmas," Carol Wilder-Tamme, president of the Darien Chamber of Commerce, said. "The candy store is full of chocolate turkeys and getting in Christmas things, and the toy store has been opening boxes like crazy."
Wilder-Tamme said she thinks it should be a great holiday season for Darien businesses.
"Restaurants create a lot of feet on the streets which helps the stores because people are looking in the window, and they see something and say, `Oh wow we're going to have to come back here,' " Wilder-Tamme said.
Holiday Magic in Darien will take place on Saturday, Dec. 1, from 4 to 7 p.m. and will feature Santa coming down the chimney at 5 p.m., rides on Rudolph and Lucy the Polar Bear, lives music, candy canes, cocoa and glow sticks.
The annual tree lighting at Darien Sport Shop will be held on Nov. 25, and according President Gina Zangrillo, the lighting will feature something brand new this year. Along with the traditional Santa arriving by fire truck and the lighting of the tree at 5 p.m., singer Kelly Mittleman will perform Christmas Carols in the parking lot starting at 4 p.m.
"We don't have [Black Friday] sales, but we are having quite a few trunk show events," Zangrillo said of the Sport Shop preparation for the holiday season.
"I think families like to come here and extended families that come into town," she said. "They're still very big, fun days."
The following trunk shows will be at Darien Sports Shop over Black Friday weekend Nov. 23 and Nov. 24.
Asha Jewelry Designer
Joanie Landau Jewelry
Gabrielle Vallerino Jewelry
IN2 Designs Jewelry
Rock Candy Jewelry
Tara Michelle Resortwear
Three Jane Jewelry
Scialles Fine Shawls
Ellsworth & Ivy Sportswear
Collared Greens Neckwear
Pink Premium Sportswear
The Sport Shop will be open Sundays in December, and will have extended hours a few nights right before Christmas.
Aquarius is another store that won't be having any Black Friday sales, but still expects to be busy during the holiday weekend, according to manager Pam Perry.
"I'm busier on Saturday than actual Black Friday," Perry said. "It's a good day but a lot of people are away, people kind of have a slow go on Friday."
Aquarius will have regular store hours on Friday and Saturday.
Suzanne England, owner of Beadz Boutique, said she'll be having lots of sales on Friday and Saturday.
"We have, I'd say, probably up to 60 percent off in the whole store," England said, adding that they were very busy last year.
On Saturday the store will be doing a free giveaway of a coin purse, valued between $12 to $14, with any purchase, according to England.
"It's really adorable. We're giving that to any person who purchases, it doesn't matter if it's $5 or $500," England said.
For the month of December Beadz Boutique will have extended store hours from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Sundays from noon to 4 p.m.
Barrett's Bookstore is also gearing up for the holiday season by putting out their holiday book selection.
"In the past we sort of at this time of year we usually are holding our breath," said owner Sheila Daley. "Actually it's been later this time of year. I don't know whether people were distracted by the hurricane, and then people being out of school, and then all of a sudden Thanksgiving is taking them by surprise, so things are just starting to kind of focus in on the idea that Christmas is coming."
Daley said she was hopeful for the holiday season, but that only time would tell.
On Saturday, Nov. 24, Barrett's will offer discounts on selected titles as a part of Small Business Saturday promoted by American Express.
"We're open now Sundays noon to 4, but we may stay open a little bit later on Sundays but I don't think we'll be open on the evenings [during the week]," Daley said. "We used to open on Thursday evenings but it was quiet, but now that there's a new restaurant behind us we might consider it."
Helen Ainson has an ongoing anniversary sale, but for Black Friday the store is offering a new promotion.
"We're having 20 percent off of the entire store on Friday and Saturday, excluding special orders and previous sales," owner Erica Jensen said. She said that she thought the sale would help "drum up business and increase sales over the holiday weekend."
"I think a lot of the times the department stores and malls are very busy and sometimes the small stores aren't as busy, so we thought why not have a promotion?" Jensen said.
The sale includes jewelry and accessories as well as clothes. As for what it's usually like in December, Jensen said it depends on the time of the month.
"The first couple of weeks [of the holiday] we're more busy with women coming in looking for items to wear for Christmas parties, and then as it gets closer to Christmas we have husbands coming in and people looking for gift items," Jensen said.
Helen Ainson has extended hours every Tuesday and Thursday evening until 7 p.m. and the store will hold two men's nights featuring hors d'oeuvres and refreshments from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 19 and 20.
Businesses aren't the only ones getting ready for the holidays, locals stopped in from all over to do some shopping or run some errands in Darien before the holiday weekend.
Oli Kambeitz, a Greenwich resident who works in Darien and was shopping in Helen Ainson for some holiday wear, said she's hosting for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, but usually takes a holiday around the New Year.
Kambeitz also said she definitely plans to do some Black Friday shopping.
"I have a lot of shopping to do," she laughed.
New Canaan resident Patrick McCoy said he felt ambivalent toward the holiday season, and said he didn't really have any plans.
"It's a good excuse to be with family, so that traditional aspect of it is good," McCoy said, "but the rest of it is detestable."
Connie Zangrillo, a Redding resident who was running errands in Darien Tuesday afternoon, said her family's in town for the holidays and that they're staying until Christmas.
Unlike Kambeitz, though, she and her daughter, Emily, agreed not to participate in Black Friday shopping because it was "too hectic."
Zangrillo said her favorite part of the holidays is having her family together and the smell of food wafting through the house. Emily said her favorite part was the Christmas music being played for an entire month.
firstname.lastname@example.org; 203-972-4407; twitter.com/megdariennews