Holidays boost sales for retailers

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By Kirsten Laskey

The days may be dark and cold, but many local businesses are facing a bright, shiny start to the holiday shopping season.
This past weekend, holiday songs that filter through retail stores were accompanied by the ringing of cash registers.
Brownell’s Hallmark is one of the local businesses that have reason to be optimistic about this year’s shopping season. “The last several days were very good. The store had a strong, steady volume. It was a little better than last year and we look forward to a better year-end than the last two Christmas seasons,” owner Steven Brownell said.
CB Fox Department Store was one of the businesses that promoted a Black Friday event. “We are doing very well,” Mindy Shelley, vice president of CB Fox, said.  “Our Black Friday was surprisingly better than last year. We pretty much doubled our sales overall from last year.”
Shelley credited a successful Black Friday to families staying in town for the Thanksgiving holiday and that the troubled economy has yet to trickle down creating a huge impact on Los Alamos. She added locals seem to understand the importance of shopping locally.
Although Village Arts’ new owners are experiencing their first holiday shopping season, co-owner Ken Nebel said things are going well. Although the day after Thanksgiving was not as busy as other days, he said, “It kept real steady … it was a good start to the season.”
Nebel said it was satisfying to see there was a reason to be open the day after Thanksgiving, adding it’s always a guessing game in terms of how many people will leave the Hill to do their shopping.
Peggy Durbin, co-owner of Otowi Station Science Museum and Bookstore, also indicated positive signs leading into the all-important shopping period between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“The holiday season is off to a good start and we hope it continues. We hope people will stay home for the holidays (meaning they will) shop on the Hill with our amazing local businesses,” she said.
Looking at the sales figures, Durbin said, Otowi is experiencing better numbers than last year, too. She believes the change is a result of people’s growing optimism about the economy.
Liz Thomson, owner of Cook’n in Style, said, “We’re very fortunate. We have wonderful customers and so far the shopping season is going extremely well.”
Although she has not looked at the numbers, at first glance business looks better this year than last, Thomson said.
Although it is too soon to determine why business has picked up, Thomson said, “We’re just grateful.”
Los Alamos businesses are not the only ones to experience a pick-up in holiday traffic. The Associated Press recently reported that Black Friday, which was Nov. 26, could have been the busiest one ever for many retailers across the country. Not only did shoppers crowd into the stores, but they bought more luxury items than last year.  
Local retail also contributes to county coffers. Last year, Los Alamos received taxes totaling about $162,000 from local retail, Chief Financial Officer Steve Lynne said.
To help promote the benefits of shopping locally, Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce Member Services Coordinator Katy Korkos said the chamber has promoted a program called the 3/50 Project for several months.
Through the program, she said, people are shown the benefits of shopping locally and are encouraged to spend money in town because of the advantages it provides to the community.
According to the 3/50 Project Web site, www.the350project.net, for every $100 spent in locally owned, independent stores, $68 returns to the community.
“When you spend money locally,” Korkos said, “it benefits people in terms of salaries, gross receipt taxes and other spin-off benefits.”


Contact Kirsten Laskey at lareporter@lamonitor.com