Friday evenings after 5 p.m. usually spell the end of the day for the quaint and inauspicious Howard Avenue in Kensington. That is, with a couple of enormous exceptions.
The first Friday of every December marks the holiday open house on Kensington’s Antique Row on Howard. The event serves to kick off the holiday shopping season and draw the town together for an evening of festivities.
“All of Kensington turns out for it,” remarked Margaret Goldsborough, a member of the town’s Antiques Market, and owner of Goldsborough Glynn Antiques. “Owners tend to go all out on decorations. … Many will close their shops at 5 only to reopen a few hours later.”
The event, which Goldsborough says had been going on for decades, also tends to reinforce the trend of increased commercial activity that hits antiques shops and bookstores, not just Walmarts and Targets.
“The month of December has been generally heavier,” added Roy Heintzelman, general manager of All Books Considered. “The weekends are pretty busy. … I wouldn’t say [Black] Friday was particularly busy, but we had a lot of online sales.”
Heintzelman, along with several of the businesses have adopted websites and online marketplaces to supplement their sales, which he says has seen a great deal of success. Americans spent $1.25 billion on “Cyber” Monday, making it the highest online shopping day in the nation’s history.
Still, Antique Row relies heavily on old-fashioned business.
“One thing that’s characteristic of the days following Thanksgiving is that Antique Row is a great place to bring relatives,” said Goldsborough. “People want to show off their great town. They buy furniture, tabletops and accessories for their houses before Thanksgiving, and then bring their families to the shops where they bought them. They change gears toward present buying.”
That mentality brought about the decades-old tradition of the Holiday Open House, where this year, owners expect festivities from Santa Claus to a six-piece ensemble playing seasonal carols.
Antique Row’s Holiday Open House will take place on Friday from 7 to 9 p.m.