With the holiday shopping season in full swing, local merchants are mixed on how sales have been to date.
Some are finding gift-givers are staying in town to do their shopping. Others, however, feel people are heading online and to the cities.
“We’ve been very pleased with sales so far,” said Connie Cuthbertson, owner of Northwoods Gallery & Gifts on Scott Street.
“Our customers are pleased with the variety that we have,” she noted.
“They have been in the big cities and online looking, and our product selection is every bit, if not better, than the places they’ve been.
“By the time you get in the car and go, with the hotel and meals and gas, you’re not really saving,” Cuthbertson reasoned.
“I think for a lot of people, if they were really trying to watch the pennies, it made sense to stay and shop around here,” she stressed.
“I think we have a lot of people who have decided to hunt around town this year and see what the stores have to offer.”
In fact, Cuthbertson said one customer in her store last week was absolutely shocked at the variety.
“She said she’s always shopped out of town before, but this year she looked around here before going shopping and she didn’t have to buy anything out of town,” Cuthbertson recounted.
“Everything’s here—you just have to look for it.”
Cuthbertson said she’s noticed children’s items are selling well this season, but that all of the departments seem to be doing well.
“We work really hard to always keep it current and have the new trends,” she remarked.
“I think more people are looking locally for shopping, which is great.”
Cuthbertson also only good things to say about the “Go Local” program, which was launched here earlier this year.
“Our customers are really pleased to have an opportunity to collect points, and many are coming back to use their [gift] cards at the store,” she noted.
“It’s been really good for us and for our customers, too.”
Across the street at McTaggarts, Richard Boileau said sales there also are going well this year.
“We’re selling lots of Christmas presents and there are a couple of weddings right after that we’ve been getting ready for; that people are buying dress clothes for,” he noted.
“We’re getting sold out of mitts, parkas, and long underwear . . . with the cold weather coming before Christmas.
“We’ve got a new line, Ten Tree,” Boileau added, saying it is a difficult brand to get and McTaggarts is fortunate to have acquired it.
Boileau explained that Ten Tree—true to its name—plants 10 trees for every item sold.
“We always do well with Guess purses, watches, and wallets at Christmas,” he continued.
Like Cuthbertson, Boileau said people are surprised that McTaggarts offers the same items at prices that rival online deals once shipping and handling are factored in.
“I’ve probably had half-a-dozen people coming in the past few days because things they ordered online haven’t come in,” he remarked.
But Nancy Kehler, front store manager at Pharmasave here, hasn’t found the traffic to as heavy as in past years.
“We’re a little quieter this year,” she admitted. “We’re okay, but I would say we’re not as busy.
“It’s starting to pick up now as we’re typically busier in the last two weeks [before Christmas].”
Kehler said all of their “Melissa & Doug” line of kids’ games was really popular this year.
“We could have stocked a lot more of those,” she noted.
Kehler also agreed the “Go Local” program is making people think about shopping in town.
“I think a lot of people really like the ‘Go Local’ program,” she remarked.
“We give five points for any purchase over $25, and then it’s another point for each five dollars after that,” she explained.
“We’ve been giving a lot of Go Local points out here.”
After someone has collected 300 points, they automatically get a $25 “Go Local” gift certificate in the mail.
Kehler noted Pharmasave has “. . . redeemed quite a lot of ‘Go Local’ gift cards.”
Over at Sight and Sound, meanwhile, owner Derek Jackson is finding sales to be quite similar to past years.
“We’re selling a little bit of everything,” he noted, adding that cellphones are quite popular.
He agreed the “Go Local” program has been good for the community, and that his staff has been busy giving out points and redeeming gift cards.