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An eight-day vendor festival that was scheduled to end this past Friday may offer longer-range prospects for a few dozen vendors, the show's organizer and the shopping mall where it's housed.

Organizer Kim Krause of K&S Southern Hospitality Events said the initial success of the Northgate Mall Christmas Market resulted in an invitation by mall officials to extend the show through Dec. 27, with a possible return of vendors in early 2021.

"We've done a ton of business," she said.

The market, offering handmade gifts and decor from nearly 50 vendors, was scheduled Dec. 11-18 at Northgate, which is owned by CBL & Associates Properties Inc. The Chattanooga-based company, one of the biggest mall operators in the country, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month after coronavirus lockdowns magnified ongoing struggles for brick-and-mortar retailers as many shoppers shifted to online options.

With 107 properties in 26 states, the company is eyeing "unique users" for its retail, dining and entertainment options as it emerges from bankruptcy. In Chattanooga, the company owns Northgate, Hamilton Place and nearby shopping centers.

Krause's Christmas Market occupies a storefront near Belk, one of Northgate's two anchor tenants, along with Burlington. Former anchor stores Sears and J.C. Penney, now owned by Chattanooga developer Bassam Issa, closed in 2019 and 2014, respectively.

The J.C. Penney space was most recently used for the Tinsel Town Craft & Vendor Holiday Market presented by Misty Craig, owner of Sweet Seconds and Sweet WeePeets consignment sales. Craig said she plans to return for sales in February and March.

Krause said mall officials have pitched the idea of her vendors returning monthly, starting in February, with weeklong markets.

"It's been quite successful, and we're thrilled to have them stay through Christmas Eve," said Stacey Keating, CBL's senior director for public relations and corporate communications. "We'd welcome them back to Northgate throughout the year to provide our shoppers with unique, locally made merchandise."

Email Lisa Denton at ldenton@timesfreepress.com.

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