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Downtown: How’s business on Sundays?

Is downtown dead on Sundays?

More than 30 shops and restaurants in downtown Concord have Sunday hours during the holiday season, according to a list compiled last week by the Merchants Roundtable, an informal group of downtown business owners. And Katy Brown Solsky, who writes a blog called “Goodgood Concord,” made her own list last week of more than 20 businesses with year-round Sunday hours.

“It’s kind of one of those chicken and egg things,” said Imagination Village owner Laura Miller who keeps her shop open seven days a week. “It’s hard to stay open to pay someone to be here when you don’t have any customers.”

But it’s also hard to attract Sunday customers if shops don’t try to open, Miller said.

Gerry Carrier, owner of Little River Oriental Rugs on North Main Street, compiled the Merchants Roundtable list.

His own store is closed Sundays because he said he doesn’t have enough customer demand to remain open.

“Football is priority over looking for oriental rugs, I suspect,” Carrier said.

At Crust & Crumb Baking Co. on North Main Street, owner Alison Ladman is open Sundays.

“We’re a bakery, so we should be open on Sundays,” she said.

Miller said she typically gets enough business to make Sunday hours worthwhile at Imagination Village.

“It’s a commitment we made to our customers,” she said. “Does it always make sense financially? No, not always. But there’s always work to be done cleaning up and (taking) inventory.”

Because she competes with bigger chain stores and online shopping, Miller said it wouldn’t make sense to close on Sundays when customers can shop everywhere else.

“We have a population that works so we need to be open when they’re available to shop,” Miller said.

Meredith Gonzales said her shop – Your Home, Your World on North Main Street – had Sunday hours before she changed her schedule last year. And as a small business, she said she needs to take one day off each week.

“For the first 4½ years we were open, we were open on Sunday and closed on Monday, just trying to get people who couldn’t come during a weekday,” Gonzales said. “And Sundays were so quiet. There were some Sundays we wouldn’t see anybody.”

But Gonzales said she still opens on the Sunday before Christmas, because “if it’s close to Christmas you see a lot of people, especially men.”

Solsky, who compiled the list for her blog, said she always thought most shops were closed on Sundays. But after seeing people on Main Street on a recent Sunday afternoon, she began to ask questions and spread the word.

“I was actually very humbled by the fact that I did not realize that some of them are open,” Solsky said.

Ladman said some Sundays are busier than others at the Crust & Crumb, and some customers comment that they’re surprised it’s open.

So what’s the secret to predicting shoppers’ schedules?

“If I could figure that out, I’d be a very rich woman,” Ladman said.

To see the list of downtown businesses with Sunday hours, visit downtownconcordshops.com.

Midnight Merriment

Friday is Intown Concord’s annual Midnight Merriment event for holiday shopping.

“It’s just a really fun and festive night, a chance to shop late at all your favorite stores and take advantage of some of our restaurants,” said Liza Poinier, Intown Concord’s operations manager.

Beginning at 5:30 p.m., shops will be open and special activities will be available downtown. All downtown streets and parking will remain open during the event.

There are a number of other events associated with Midnight Merriment:

Santa and his elves will be in Eagle Square from 6 to 8 p.m.

Children can deliver their letters to Santa in a letter box in Bicentennial Square.

The Kimball House Mansion at the Capitol Center for the Arts will have storytelling, refreshments and tours from 5:30 to 10 p.m.

The New Hampshire Historical Society Museum will offer free admission from 5 to 10 p.m.

The League of New Hampshire Craftsmen will host a basket-weaving workshop.

“It’s just a really busy, bustling, festive night,” Poinier said.

For more information, visit Intownconcord.org. (The Monitor is one of Intown Concord’s corporate sponsors.)

Giftopolis returns

Also on Friday, the Concord Arts Market Winter Giftopolis will return for a second year.

The arts market is outdoors in Bicentennial Square on Saturdays during the summer months, but last year organizer Katy Brown Solsky decided to partner with Midnight Merriment and bring the market back for one night of holiday shopping.

This year’s Giftopolis will feature “a good mix of some of the local favorites,” Solsky said, as well as artists from as far away as the Seacoast and Lowell, Mass.

Artists will sell paintings, jewelry, ceramics and other homemade goods.

The arts market will be inside an office building at Eagle Square from 6:30 p.m. until midnight.

Realty on Storrs Street

A new realty office is coming to downtown Concord.

The 89 Storrs St. location was most recently a Men’s Wearhouse, until the store moved to a new retail building on the Heights this summer.

The building, at the corner of Storrs Street and the Pleasant Street Extension, is currently undergoing renovations, and Craig Keeler of Fairway Realty said the space is leased to a real estate company.

Keeler said last week that he wasn’t able to give more information about what real estate company will be moving in, or when its renovations will be complete.

Boost for kitchen

The Friendly Kitchen, which is expected to begin moving into its new South Commercial Street building this week, has received another fundraising boost.

The Citizens Bank Foundation announced last week that it made a $25,000 contribution to Friendly Kitchen.

The soup kitchen is currently rebuilding after a 2011 fire damaged its Montgomery Street location.

“Many families are stretching their budgets thin trying to cover their rent, heat and food bills,” Joe Carelli, president of Citizens Bank in New Hampshire, said in a press release. “By helping The Friendly Kitchen rebuild its facility, we can ensure that this critical community resource is there for our neighbors when they need a nutritious meal.”

Phil Wallingford, president of the soup kitchen’s board of directors, has said meals will be served from the new site on South Commercial Street as early as next week.

(Laura McCrystal can be reached at 369-3312 or lmccrystal@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @lmccrystal.)

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