Lindsay Madison, executive director of the Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce, said she hopes this will be the kick-off to an exciting weekend of events here.
"It's going to be a big weekend, and hopefully, this will be a prelude to all the things that are happening in town, along with the Homes for the Holidays, the Candlelight Tour at the Fort and Christmas at the Park," Madison said.
She said this is the second year for the event, which returns due in part to the success of last year's open house.
"We meet quarterly to go over plans for downtown and the stores voted to do it again because they thought that both of them were successful last year," Madison said.
She said this open house will be called "Mistletoe on Main Street" and added they hope to attach random amounts of Chamber Bucks certificates to mistletoe and hide them in various stores for visitors to find and redeem.
"The Chamber puts in a drawing as well," Madison said. "When they go to the different stores, they not only enter for the drawings that the individual store is having, but the Chamber does a drawing for $50 in Chamber Bucks that can be used at any of the stores."
She said many shops will offer hors d'oeuvres, beverages, prize drawings and specials and said the shops are all decorated for the holidays.
Bargains and prizes aren't the only draw tonight as the chamber also has arranged for entertainment.
Madison said there will be carolers roaming the shops downtown from the Sophomore/Junior/Senior Select Ensemble and Women's Ensemble of Fort Scott High School beginning at about 6:30 p.m.
"Downtown is usually packed, so it's a really fun night," Madison said.
This is the second open house of the season downtown, following one in November.
"We had one in November so that people could come before Thanksgiving when they start doing their decorating, buying more seasonal decor," Madison said. "Then at this one in December, people start buying Christmas gifts and things like that."
Downtown shop co-owner Cynthia McFarlin, of life+style, 22 N. Main St., is one of many merchants who will be participating in the open house tonight.
McFarlin said there will be a drawing for a prize from her store in addition to the Chamber's drawing.
"We will also have a drawing for a gift and in addition to that, we will also have some special one-night only prices on things and we will have a lot of food here for people to sample," McFarlin said. "It's a lot of fun. I invite everyone to come and see how beautiful downtown Fort Scott is at night."
McFarlin participated in November's open house and is looking forward to tonight's as well.
"It was great," McFarlin said. "The open houses are wonderful because we get to see people that we don't get to see on a regular basis. With newspapers and radio helping us, we remind people that there are wonderful shops downtown and that they don't have to leave Fort Scott to do their shopping."
Though much of the activity will be on Main Street downtown, Madison was quick to point out that many local merchants will also be participating in areas not located downtown.
"It's not only downtown stores, it's also additional stores that participate as well, such as Sekan Occasion Shops, Bartelsmeyer Jewelry, Everything Pets, Flowers by Leanna and Mayco Ace Hardware," Madison said. "It's primarily Main Street, but there are also other stores that participate."
Madison estimates about 20 downtown stores will participate in tonight's open house.