BUSINESSES in the village of Millthorpe are staying open later to give visitors an opportunity to shop, wine and dine in the lead up to Christmas. Business owners have agreed to keep their doors open until 7pm on the next three Friday nights - December 1, 8 and 15. The initiative is designed to not only get people into the festive spirit and make it easier to experience Millthorpe, but to also support small, family-owned businesses. Milthorpe offers a range of unique businesses full of things like antiques, art and jewellery, and is home to several cafes and restaurants. Gwenda Langley-Irvine, the owner of Hive Grove, a fashion and homewares store, encouraged people to visit Millthorpe for this unique shopping experience. She said they can browse the boutiques without the hustle and bustle that usually comes at Christmas time in the shopping centres, and then finish off their visit with drinks or dinner before heading home. "We want to promote Christmas shopping in a relaxed environment with the other options of wining and dining out there to follow on," she said. As has been the case for many households, 2023 has been tough on small business owners, and they would be grateful for the boost from people shopping locally during the festive season. "Like everyone else we are struggling getting financial income for us and we're all individual shopkeepers who are trying to back ourselves, and we want everyone in Millthorpe to succeed," Ms Langley-Irvine said. Participating businesses in the Friday night shopping initiative include Millthorpe Chocolates, The Salon des Refuses, Just Imagine Collections, Millthorpe Unique, Millthorpe Creative Arts, Hive Grove, The Trade Caravan, Millthorpe Sweets and Treats, Tamburlaine Organic Wines, Slow Wine Co, the Millthorpe Hotel and Tonic. The village of Millthorpe is approximately 30 minutes west of Bathurst.