In spite of tough economic times, local businesses are getting a small boost from the holiday season.
“We’re running ahead of last year, I’d say roughly 8% better than we were at this point last year,” said Sharon Lantz, owner of The Candy Cane Christmas Shoppe.
“From what we can tell, hopefully, things are on the upswing.”
Even with a county unemployment rate that the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reports is stubbornly clinging to roughly 9%, several businesses are having much better seasons than previous years.
The Care & Share stores, which work in concert with Ten Thousand Villages, all expect to see increased sales from last year.
“We have three different stores– the thrift store, clothing store, and Ten Thousand Villages– and we expect all of them to do better than last year,” said Rachel Sauder, a manager. Big Ticket Items Propel Big Sales
For some retailers, a few key items are propelling holiday sales.
Kyle Brodbeck, president of Locker Room, pointed to corporate embroidery.
“Those make up about 75% of our revenues and then retail, the walk-ins, and order types make up about 25%.”
Locker Room also added a new line of Archbold school shirts and sweaters to boost holiday sales.
“Archbold items really drive our retail, and this new line has been doing fairly well,” he said.
Even though Christmasseason sales are lower than last year, Brodbeck thinks the Locker Room will still have had a better overall year than 2010.
For Lauber Clothing, Tim Smith, a fourth-generation owner, thinks that things will allow the store to eventually reach the fifth and sixth generations.
“There’s been no increase whatsoever versus last year,” said Smith. “We’re just maintaining what business we have.”
Lauber Clothing did have a great December, propelled by its tuxedo rental.
“We’ve been doing [tuxedo rentals] for 40 years, and it’s always been one of our bigger holiday items,” said Smith.
But for Eliza Henry, a children’s and infants gift store, the issue isn’t so much what is being sold as what is being built.
“We’re a relatively new business, and building that clientele is key for us,” said Donna King, owner.
“Having the people that come in and then go out and tell their friends all around Northwest Ohio is what will really help us.”
King’s business has seen an explosion in sales since relocating from 112 North Defiance Street, which had two small windows, to 210 North Defiance Street, which is fronted by a large plate glass window.
“Having that window really does help,” said King.
Their best items also aren’t specific.
“It’s the fact that if you’re looking to spend anywhere from five dollars to 50 dollars, that really helps people trying to buy gifts.” Local Shopping
But local businesses are helped the most by, shockingly, local shoppers.
“When we see media, local and even national, encouraging people to shop locally, that really does help us out,” said Marlene Huber, owner of The Corner Gallery.
“And we do see people who come in and tell us that the encouragement does help.”
The Corner Gallery, spurred on by such shoppers, has had several holiday items sell out completely in recent weeks.
“We’re doing all right this year, and hopefully will continue to do so.”
Karlin Wyse, vice president of Lugbill Supply Center, emphasized the secondary benefits for a community that shops local.
“We’re the ones who are around and willing when people want donations for the little league and the school,” Wyse said. “And when people shop local, we all win.
“I understand that there are some things you can’t get in Archbold, but if you can, shopping local helps everyone.”