Downtown Victoria lures Black Friday shoppers (Video)
Nov. 23, 2012 at 5:23 a.m.
Updated Nov. 24, 2012 at 5:24 a.m.
Hours after the madness subsided, weary Black Friday shoppers found retail solace on the streets of downtown Victoria.
Restaurants, stores and arts centers kept their doors open late as part of The Texas Main Street Program's initiative to revitalize the districts to their former glory.
At the Leo J. Welder for the Performing Arts, two travelers wandered between tables of handmade soaps that were part of a local rummage sale.
"We were at the mall earlier," said Waco native Sarah DeVries, of Veracruz, Mexico, who is in Victoria visiting her sister for the holidays.
She was joined by Kat Mills, a family friend, who had flown into town from North Carolina.
The travelers said they welcomed the warm Texas breeze.
"The weather is so nice," Mills said. "Perfect."
The public was invited to seek out "hidden images" as part of a scavenger hunt for prizes donated by the Victoria Ballet Theatre and local gift shop Days Gone Bye.
Customers were greeted with wide, college-aged smiles from aproned employees, as they walked through the glass doors of the 6-year-old specialty store.
Store owner Pat McDonald was waiting for things to die down so she could join her family at her grandson's playoff football game.
A blue and white spirit T-shirt peeped out from behind her denim bluebonnet jacket, but she had trouble walking out the door.
McDonald had the store fully staffed, with former employees volunteering their time for the extended hours event.
As her husband patiently sat in his car for his wife, McDonald kept her employees in check, making sure each had a chocolate ready to place into the palms of curious passers-by.
"There are so many who do not know downtown Victoria exists outside the pretty houses," McDonald said. "This event will hopefully educate people about what we have to offer."
The former teacher and high school principal opened her shop after retiring from a 32-year career in education.
"I have friends who live on the northside of town and they just don't come downtown," McDonald said.
Before McDonald and her husband remodeled the shop, Days Gone Bye used to be a drug store.
"You can still see the old architecture in the building," McDonald said.
The gift shop was lined with brands including Flax, a New York linen-clothing line, and Lady Primrose, a soap and luxury bath goods collection sold at designer department store Neiman Marcus.
McDonald said she hoped the shoppers would see her shop as a way of doing big city shopping in their hometown.
Program volunteer Linda Henson, a former resident of Austin, had Christmas ornaments dangling from her ears as she took in the rich scent of a perfume adorned on her right wrist.
"I know the value of drawing people downtown," Henson said. "It's good not only for the businesses, but for the community."
The wind started to pick up pace as the sun set on the downtown district.
Local musicians Mandie Bright and Eric Smiga strummed their wooden instruments outside Downtown Bar and Grill.
"We had to move across the street. The wind was getting in our way," Bright said.
The duo was booked to play the street corner by the Main Street program to lure the public into the scene.
"This is the first time I've played in the street," Bright said. "I like it. It's calmer, more laid back and easy."
White lights flickered on and off from a string of bulbs around their necks.
Cars started to fill in the lot next door as Bright and her partner howled in the night.