Next door, at Carriage House Gallery, business ow-ner D.J. Ferguson was sharing a little history about some of her antiques.
And behind their two shops, Dori Hersey, who operates Dori’s Gardens, sold unique garden art amid a backdrop of colorful pansies and cheerful Christmas carols.
“This is shopping the way it was, without all the craziness,” Ms. Ferguson said. “When I was young, we would walk past the shops, peek in the windows and wish. It wasn’t wild consumption. It was a slower pace and you could enjoy Christmas so much more.”
Black Friday has its fans, so does Cyber Monday, but Saturday was highlighted nationally as a day for patronizing small businesses, which play a major role in supporting local, state and national economies.
Some shopkeepers in Ty-ler’s Historic Brick Street District said buying local can be a refreshing alternative to long lines and off-beat hours, not just for the holidays, but for always.
“We offer the most unique things in our shops,” Ms. Hersey said. “We have things you won’t find in the mall. We really care about quality and our customers.”
Small shops along South Bois d’Arc Avenue and West Phillips Street kicked off the Brick Streets Stroll, a nod to the “shop small” movement and relaxing shopping alternative to big box stores.
“We’re really trying to get people to realize we’re here,” Ms. Hansen said. “This is potentially a great shopping area. People who walk in here say, ‘Wow, Tyler really needed this kind of shop.’”
Visitors were welcomed Saturday with a blast of Christmas traditions: carriage rides, holiday refreshments, seasonal music and special visits from Santa.
Adding to the atmosphere was a large, hand-painted canvas mural, featuring the various brick street shops tucked in a snowy hillside.
Customers seemed to appreciate the simplicity of the occasion.
Customer Callie Hicks, of Austin, agreed.
“You can find the most unique things in local shops,” she said.
Visitors entering Rhonda Reuter’s Crafts & Quilting, Etc. were welcomed with piping-hot apple cider.
She makes T-shirt quilts and operates a shop overflowing with unique, vintage fabrics and chubby Santas made of recycled quilts.
Quilter wannabes can also sign up for classes.
“There’s a big push to buy things that are handmade and to buy local,” Ms. Reuter said. “We’re trying to encourage people in the neighborhood to come down to the Brick Street District to shop.”
Other participating businesses included Brady’s Coffee, Encore Furniture Consignment, Brick Street Pharmacy, Robert Langham Photography and Holt House.
Some outside business owners joined in the festivities as well.
Kepen and Robin Gilliam, of Tyler, brought their Percheron horse, John, to the stroll. The Amish-trained, 2,000-pound horse, originally from Indiana, is the mainstay for their business, Farm Valley Carriages, farmvalleycarriages.com.
Gilliam said the gentle giant of a horse works only one day a week and has his own Facebook page.
“John loves his job,” he said.
Business owner George Jones, who operates Tours of Tyler, used the occasion to showcase the city and its small shops.
“I want people to be aware of what Tyler has to offer,” Jones said. “Tyler has everything Dallas has, but it’s a lot more interesting.”