The biannual Shop Hop makes its way back to The District this weekend

Downtown CoMo is a hotspot for shopping, food and great deals this Saturday

The District’s Holiday Shop Hop returns this Saturday, offering discounts and free refreshments in CoMo’s coolest retailers and restaurants. The event aims to give customers and merchants the opportunity to interact, as well as to show the public what downtown Columbia has to offer for the upcoming holiday shopping season.

This year, the affair also includes a holiday tree lighting at Ninth and Broadway to take the place of the “Magic Tree” lighting, which is no longer in its usual spot in front of Shakespeare’s due to construction. The lighting will occur at 5:30 p.m. and serve as a “grand finale” for the event.

The Holiday Shop Hop began eight years ago, though it’s been growing and changing ever since. Today, The District fully funds the event, allowing any shop to participate.

“It’s really just a fun way to transition into the holiday shopping season,” says Katie Essing, Downtown Community Improvement District executive director. “A lot of the retailers and merchants will have product demonstrations and trunk shows, and they’ll be showing all-new holiday items. So it’s really a fun day to shop and experience the stores downtown.”

Among the shops participating this year is Bluestem, an arts and crafts store on Ninth Street. The shop is offering 10 percent off all Christmas ornaments for the event.

“As an owner, (the Shop Hop) helps us plan a strategy for getting all of our artists’ work out and displayed for that particular day, so it’s a good goal for us to meet,” Bluestem partner Cindy Messer says. “It kicks off the holiday with a fun event. It’s a good atmosphere.”

Muse Clothing, also located on Ninth Street, is offering its customers an extra 20-30 percent off all sale items, free mimosas and other great deals yet to be determined. The store also brings in exclusive merchandise for the event and offers personalized styling for its customers.

“The whole point during the Shop Hop event (for Muse) is to try to create a really cool experience for customers when they come back and we style them, which we did last year as well,” says Darion Wu, Muse sales associate and stylist. “I think what’s really cool about Shop Hop is that all the local boutiques downtown are a part of The District, which is kind of a way for us all uniting as local boutiques. A lot of the stuff that we have in store during the Shop Hop event is exclusive and we only carry six to eight of those items so once they’re gone, they’re gone. Which is nice so people feel like when they come in, they have a little bit of something that’s exclusive and just theirs.”

Last year, Muse brought in a lot of seasonal products for the event, including flannels, unique prints and Chanel dresses. The shop hopes to create a unique and exclusive atmosphere for its customers again this year.

Popular downtown favorites such as Route and Poppy Arts are also holding special deals for the event, though many of the sales and other event participants are yet to be determined.

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