Local holiday shoppers have options beyond the big-box-store experience, and without getting up hours before the sun rises.
On Friday, Nov. 27, Fairhaven will kick things off at 3 p.m. with its annual Holiday Festival and Art Walk with the arrival of Santa, who will hang out at the gazebo on the corner of 10th Street and Harris Avenue. From 5 to 8 p.m. will be the first night of the art walk in the district.
On Saturday, a variety of events will take place, including free horse-drawn carriage rides and an evening art walk. At 5 p.m., for the first time, the Bellingham Ukulele Orchestra will perform on the Village Green during the lighting of the trees.
The downtown Bellingham shopping district also has events planned for the holiday shopping season, starting with the Shop Small Saturday event on Nov. 28. Participating stores will have bows on their storefronts. Festivities include street performances, carolers, a roaming Santa and refreshments.
Heading into this holiday season, there are more stories about consumers vowing not to shop on Thanksgiving Day and stores deciding to stay closed that day. That could lead to increased popularity for these events as people look for a holiday experience rather than just a shopping event, said Lindsey Payne-Johnstone, events manager at Downtown Bellingham Partnership.
With that holiday experience in mind, Payne-Johnstone said they are trying to do things that encourage people to stay downtown longer. Several restaurants and bars are offering food and holiday cocktail specials throughout the day on Nov. 28. The holiday cocktails include a Bourbon Winter Punch at Bayou on Bay, an Akro-Toddy at Cafe Akroteri, Irish Coffee at Uische and Hot Buttered Rum at Wild Buffalo.
FREE PARKING IN DOWNTOWN BELLINGHAM
The city of Bellingham is offering free parking again this year for the holiday season, but with a caveat — it is only on the first floor of the Parkade building.
Four hours of free parking is available on the first floor of the structure at 1300 Commercial St. from Friday, Nov. 27, through Dec. 24. In previous years the free parking was throughout downtown, but this year the city wanted to highlight the underutilized Parkade building, also known as the Commercial Street Parking Garage.
“The Commercial Street Parking Garage is often overlooked as a prime location to park in downtown Bellingham, yet it’s only two to four blocks from most restaurants, shops and businesses in downtown,” said Nick Hartrich, executive director of the Downtown Bellingham Partnership, in a news release. He added that there are more than 70 spaces available on the first floor.
The city has been doing renovations to the Parkade and recently turned on a new 24-hour security camera system.
CO-OP TO HAVE GRAND REOPENING CELEBRATION
With the huge remodel now wrapping up at its downtown store, the Community Food Co-op will have a grand reopening celebration on Friday, Dec. 4.
By establishing its bakery and class/meeting rooms in a nearby building, the co-op was able to make some major improvements, including a new seating area, expanded deli food service and a salad bar.
During the celebration, which takes place from 5:30 to 10 p.m. at 1220 N. Forest St., co-op staff will be circulating the store with samples from the co-op kitchens, and local vendors will host tasting stations. The Washington Chestnut Company will be roasting chestnuts on site. The store is also hosting a Latte Art Throwdown, where local baristas will compete for the best-looking drink. Music and artwork are also part of the event.
Details can be found on the co-op’s Facebook page.
Edaleen Dairy announced that it plans to open a store at the new retail center Ferndale Crossings sometime next spring, serving ice cream and dairy products. The retail center is at 5891 Portal Way, on the west side of Interstate 5. Listing agent Neal Swanson said the store will occupy 4,000 square feet of space. According to a post on the website DiscoverFerndale.com, the Ferndale store will be similar to the Edaleen store on Grover Street in Lynden. Along with two stores in Lynden, the company has shops in Blaine and Sumas. The retail center Ferndale Crossings has now filled up 8,000 square feet in phase one of the project, with another 20,000 square feet slated to be developed based on market demand, Swanson said. ... On Wednesday, Nov. 25, restaurant owner Jesse Cantu is offering his annual Cash Day special as a way to thank customers. At all three Jalapenos Family Mexican Restaurants and the Luna’s Bistro, customers who pay cash will receive 50 percent off the total bill. ... Financial firm Northwestern Mutual is moving to 2219 Rimland Drive, Suite 407, on Monday, Nov. 30, occupying 2,200 square feet of office space. The firm is currently at 1616 Cornwall Ave.