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The Christmas season may be a festive time of year, but it’s also serious business for local merchants in the Northern Hills, who are rolling out the red carpet to entice holiday shoppers to explore their stores.

In Belle Fourche, downtown merchants have banded together to promote an open house weekend this Thursday, Friday and Saturday to showcase a number of new stores that have opened recently.

In Sturgis, a local realtor has issued a challenge for shoppers to do 90 percent of their holiday shopping with local merchants.

Spearfish is hosting a number of events to celebrate Small Business Saturday on Nov. 30 and throughout the Christmas shopping season.

“There is always a lot going on,” said Melissa Barth, executive director of the Spearfish Chamber of Commerce.

Barth was referring to planned events in Spearfish, but the comment applies equally to other small towns in the Hills.

Business owner Debra McCart of The Olive Branch said Empower Belle Fourche is a collection of business owners who will kick off the Christmas shopping season with an open house weekend from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday in downtown Belle Fourche.

Businesses will have their decorations up, with holiday music playing and a large selection of gift items on display.

“It’s like a destination for people to shop,” McCart said of downtown. “It’s not just one store. ... We offer that hometown feel."

One of the recent additions to downtown is Designs by Daphne at 614 State Street.

Owner Daphne Johnson specializes in refurbishing and finishing furniture small repairs and re-upholstery, along with silver and copper jewelry and other craft and gift items.

“There have a number of people that have purchased buildings downtown. People are really starting to get going, revitalizing downtown and bringing it back to the glory it used to have,” Johnson said.

“We’d love to have people come and see what we have done, and just shop and explore the new stores," Johnson said.

In Sturgis, Richelle Bruch of Keller-Williams Real Estate is challenging local residents to spend 90 percent of their shopping budgets or buy 90 percent of their gifts at Sturgis area merchants.

“I think people tend to forget that we have some great shops and great shopping options in Sturgis,” she said. "Everybody thinks we’re all rally-related all year round.”

Bruch said there are 27 businesses alone in the downtown business district, including restaurants that offer gift certificates.

Bruch said she picked the 90 percent number just a personal gift shopping goal for herself, and decided to issue the same challenge publicly. Reaction has been mixed, but largely positive, she said.

“It’s either ‘we know we can shop here, and we’re really going to try,’ or ‘we just don’t know if there are any shopping options,’” she said.

“The idea is to shop local and keep the community feeling alive,” she said. “That’s the purpose.”

Barth said a small sampling of events in Spearfish include a Nov. 30 craft vendor event at the Spearfish Holiday Inn and Convention Center, and a Christmas Shopper’s Village at the High Plains Western Heritage Center from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. starting on Dec. 9 and continuing through Dec. 14.

Barth said local businesses will also be visited throughout the season by a red and green Christmas elf figurine named “Marv” in something similar to an “Elf on a Shelf” promotion.

“He goes around and visits different businesses and we do social media marketing with it, showcasing some of the different things they have,” Barth said.

The Lead Chamber of Commerce is hosting a kickoff party for Small Business Saturday, Nov. 30, at Miners & Merchants Trading Post starting at 9 a.m.

The first 50 shoppers may pick up a bag of coupons and special offers from participating chamber businesses.

Spending at least $10 at the businesses earns a punch on a punch card. Returning the card with 10 punches enters a shopper in a drawing for prizes on Dec. 19 at Blackstone Lodge & Suites

The Chamber is also sponsoring a Light Up Lead Christmas lighting contest for all residences inside the Lead city limits, with a top prize of $1,000 up for grabs.

Registration began on Nov. 1 and continues through Nov. 27. Judging will take place from Dec. 1-2, with the winners announced on Dec. 3.

Full rules are at: leadmethere.org/lightuplead/

In Deadwood, the SpringHill Suites at Cadillac Jacks is hosting the November Art of Local on Saturday, Nov. 16, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Local venders and artisans are invited to market and sell their creations.

The Whitewood Chamber of Commerce is hosting the Whitewood Extravaganza on Dec. 7 at three locations in downtown Whitewood. Gift and craft items from local boutiques and small businesses will be featured.

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