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      Are you planning on Christmas shopping locally?

      The Escanaba Downtown Development Authority is encouraging residents to shop locally in Escanaba for the Christmas season. They're putting on their annual storefront decorating contest to motivate shoppers. The contest kicked off on Black Friday and ends this Friday with the big Christmas parade.

      With so many other shopping options out there, there's an extra push to keep traffic and dollars local.

      Every year Nyman Jewelers participates in the contest. Employees make decorations at home, and it takes about a week to put the display together.

      â??We get customers coming in all the time saying, 'I saw this in your window and how much is it? Can I buy it, or can you wrap it up for me?' We hear things like that all the time," says store owner, Sue Parker.

      What do residents think about spending their money in Escanaba?

      â??Iâ??m going to shop locally,â?? says Jacob Bianga. â??I don't like going out of town or shopping on the Internet. Iâ??ll go to Gamer's Universe or Kmart or Walmart or Shopko or all the little stores."

      Residents say they find good deals at the local stores. But it's also the appeal of knowing you're getting personalized attention that keeps shoppers happy.

      â??Yeah, it's the small town charm,â?? explains Escanaba Downstown Development Authority Director, Judy Schroeder. â??It's seeing your neighbors, enjoying your family. Itâ??s the small town atmosphere."

      There're are about 278 businesses on Ludington Street. The DDA director says only about 8 or 10 participate in the storefront contest. Still, she expects a busy shopping season in Escanaba.

      Many businesses say this is their busiest time of the year. The judging will be done Friday on the night of the Christmas parade which starts at 7 p.m. The winners will be announced on Monday.