COPY-Downtown merchants hope for happy holidays

Glennie Adams is like many people across the mid-south. Holiday shopping means a trip to the mall. "I usually go to Southland Mall, I don't come downtown too much," says Adams. Saturday night's holiday parade was the only reason she came downtown this weekend, along with hundreds of others. A lot of them are beginning to notice something. "It's much better down here than it used to be," says Adams. Still, that hasn't kept money from being spent elsewhere. However, there is renewed interest downtown in combating a potentially "blue Christmas." There's even a downtown holiday committee. The parade was part of their plan. It was definitely one way to get people downtown, and merchants hope people stick around through the season. South Main shop-owner Kim Jameson admits, it's been tough for some. "There's not a lot of people walking down the streets during the week," says Jameson. Aggressive marketing and wide-ranging gifts have helped here shop, called Gestures, survive. She says new customers come in all the time. "People are pleasantly surprised when they make it down here," says Jameson. "They'll say it's been 10 years since they've been here and can't believe how it's changed," she adds. False impressions about inadequate parking and problems with crime may holed some people back. Then again, changing minds takes time. However, a festive atmosphere like that of a parade certainly can't hurt.