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Bethlehem Area

Bethlehem confident in big turnout on Small Business Saturday

Bethlehem Christmas Huts
Olivia Marble
People who helped design the new holiday huts in Downtown Bethlehem stand inside one of them, holding Christmas stars. (L to r): D'Huy Engineering President Arif Fazil, D'Huy employees Elisabeth Hamscher and Heather Eisenberger and Downtown Bethlehem Association Manager Kelly Smith.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — Early-season foot traffic in Downtown Bethlehem has bolstered hopes that turnout for Small Business Saturday will exceed pre-coronavirus levels.

The city said high turnout for its annual Holiday Cocktail Trails is the first sign people feel safe enough to gather again.

  • Downtown Bethlehem is seeing big turnout of visitors and shoppers early on in the Christmas season, bolstering hopes that turnout for Small Business Saturday will exceed expectations
  • Small Business Saturday takes place the Saturday after Thanksgiving and is a movement to help small businesses and communities thrive
  • Shoppers Saturday are encouraged to take a #SelfieWithanElfie to be in the running for a $200 gift card

"This is the first year since COVID-19 hit the nation that Bethlehem's Holiday Cocktail Trails felt normal, which is a great indicator for strong numbers for Small Business Saturday," Downtown Bethlehem Association Manager Kelly Smith said in a news release.
The city is seeing full hotels, busy restaurants and shops, Smith said.

One thing that might be drawing more visitors is a change in design to the Christmas City Village huts this year that also increased the number of vendors.

The holiday-themed wooden huts on Main Street opened Nov. 10 and are part of a holiday tradition that draws thousands of people downtown.

Happy Holidays! Here's your guide to festive events taking place all over Lehigh Valley

Smith previously told the association decided to change the style of the huts because the previous versions were difficult for the vendors to use and people to shop at.

“It was very challenging for them every day to come in and load in and out and put their displays on the outside,” Smith told reporter Olivia Marble. “So we copied Boston, Baltimore and Philadelphia and some of the German-style Christmas villages around the world and decided to make the huts more user-friendly."

The new huts are bigger and designed to be more weather-resistant, so vendors will be able to set up their wares inside and leave them there throughout the season.

SouthSide Bethlehem also has been bustling, with the recent opening of Christkindlmarkt and the outdoor ice rink at SteelStacks, which is scheduled to be open every day until New Year's Day.

#SelfieWithanElfie Contest

Beyond taking advantage of Small Business Saturday deals, shoppers in Downtown Bethlehem also will have the chance to take part in a unique scavenger hunt.

So many people in the Lehigh Valley need your help this holiday season

There will be elves hidden in various shops that customers are encouraged to track down and take a selfie with before uploading the photos to the Heart of Bethlehem social media page. Using the hashtags #shopsmall and #selfiewithanelfie, every photo is a chance to win a $200 gift certificate.

Return to Bethlehem for 12 Days of Giveaways

If you don't win the #SelfieWithanElfie Contest, there are other ways to win big in Bethlehem this holiday season.

The city's annual 12 Days of Giveaways begins on Dec. 1, with a hotel stay, jewelry, baskets of gourmet food and more up for grabs.

No purchase is needed to win and you can sign up now at Winners will be posted on the Heart of Bethlehem Facebook page and website.