Extended hours, beautification and networking remain front and center for downtown Nacogdoches as the busiest time of the year draws near.

“Some studies say it takes up to seven years to get the community, even locals, to understand that ‘Hey, we are open on Sundays,’” Main Street Director Amy Mehaffey. “There’s a misconception in the community that nothing is open downtown on the weekends and that’s actually not true when you come down here and look around.”

Mehaffey on Tuesday provided an update to City Council on the Main Street program and its strategies. Among them is continuing to encourage extended business hours.

“We have a lot of business owners where there is one person or maybe two people running that store,” she said, “and to ask them to be open very late hours, weekends or Sundays — times we know tourists like to be in the shops — is sometimes a big sacrifice. We’ve got a lot of businesses open Sundays and we’ve got a lot of restaurants and having the hotel open has really helped with that synergy.”

Main Street programs include training and networking for downtown merchants along with planned events — all of which have a purpose from the dates chosen to target audiences. One example is an Elf Scavenger Hunt now entering its second year.

“One of the things we were wearing was there are a lot of things to do as far as shopping and going to restaurants, but there’s not a lot of things I can do with my kids,” Mehaffey said. “As the mother of two tiny humans, I began to understand that. So we actually have merchants who hide elves all over their stores and there’s a little scavenger hunt card. They don’t have to spend a lot of money — and hopefully they set foot in stores they wouldn’t ordinarily. There is a method to the madness in some of the silliness that surrounds all these events.”

Beginning Nov. 24, the Elf Scavenger Hunt kicks off an assortment of holiday events centered on downtown. Held on the eve of the Nine Flags Festival and Parade, Jingle and Mingle is an extended hours event that will feature more live entertainment this year, Mehaffey said.

“We have late-night shopping Friday night; we have a 5K on that Saturday. The festival starts at noon and then the parade,” she said. “We are trying to continue to get people who don’t always come downtown to see what we have.”

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