Despite economy, shop owners encouraged by holiday sales
Smaller inventories, offering less expensive products and using Facebook are a few ways in which business owners in Bonner Springs are competing this holiday season.
Though technically the economy is slowly recovering from a recession that ended more than a year ago, Miller’s Too owner Carol Courtney said she has bought less inventory over the year as a cautionary measure. She says holiday sales were slightly down this year from a year ago. Sticking to the “better safe than sorry” motto has really helped, she said.
“From all you read, we knew not to go too crazy, so we kept our buying down a little bit, but it’s gone very well,” Courtney said. She noted her store, which specializes in home décor items, has been busy with holiday shoppers since a holiday open house the weekend after Halloween. “I think it’s more the economy and people being more cautious because of the economy. Even if it doesn’t directly affect us now, we hear so much negative that we’re all being more conscientious.”
Courtney said she’s noticed shoppers being more frugal with their money and also purchasing items for their usefulness rather than just for how they look displayed in a home.
“I think people are more conscientious and practical, but we’ve sold a lot of food items and … things that you can use rather than just look at,” Courtney said. “I think, too, people have been more into buying something that’s not strictly Christmas. They’re into buying more just everyday décor so they can use it longer than just Christmas.”
To draw customers in to the store this season, Courtney said she’s offered extended holiday hours and also sent out a lot more e-mails this year notifying customers of sales and new shipments. This is also the first year, Courtney said, she’s utilized Facebook to get the word out about the offerings at Miller’s Too.
“(Our) Facebook page is new to this year and that’s helped a lot, too,” Courtney said. “We’ve noticed that.”
Also seeing the benefits from Facebook is Pink Zebra Boutique owner Jamie Istas. She said her sales this holiday season are right about where they were last year, thanks to Facebook, e-mails and a booth she rented at the Vintage Market in the Zona Rosa shopping center in October.
“(We’ve) definitely gotten customers from there coming down, lots of Facebook and more e-mails,” Istas said of the methods she has used this year to advertise new arrivals, in-store events and even a gift certificate sale she offered on Black Friday.
Though she says she’s had fewer shoppers this season than last, ticket sales are helping to counteract that.
“I feel like I may have less shoppers, but the shoppers I have are spending more money,” Istas said.
Still, Istas said she has noticed people being more careful with their money this year, and her inventory now reflects that. She says she is offering more affordable, but still quality, jeans than she had previously. The jeans are some of the most popular items in her store right now.
“… that made a big difference in sales, because I found a new style of jeans that’s affordable,” Istas said. “Last year I had high-end jeans and this year I chose to carry a more inexpensive brand … because of trying to change my buying with the economy.”
Both Istas and Courtney said they felt more people were shopping locally this year.
“I think if anything I’ve had more people say they want to shop at the small town, local shops rather than hit the malls, so that’s kind of helped us,” Courtney said.