With a couple of critical days left in the holiday shopping season, it would appear that the consensus among downtown merchants is that this year’s cash-register activity, while not booming, is at acceptable levels.
redbankgreen hit the pavement late Wednesday afternoon for a completely unscientific sampling of viewpoints from behind the sales counters.
Here’s what folks were saying.
Aime Smith, owner of Tesori Jewelry, Broad Street
We got off to a bit of a slow start, but it is picking up, and I think we’re going to outdo last year. You build up a client base every year that you’re in one spot. I think the economy is not doing as well as it was, so you rely on your regular customers, and them telling people about you, if you’re going to stay in business.
People have lot of choices, and I find that they’re cutting back. But we’re getting more customersa very high proportion of our existing customers, people who’ve heard about us from them, and people who heard about us from a marketing campaign that’s been very well received.
Myles Garber of The Mission Works, West Front Street
It’s been a slow month. I also have a shop in San Francisco, and I’ve talked to a lot of furniture dealers on the West Coast, and people don’t generally spend five, ten thousand dollars on furniture in December. But what I’m finding, and I’ve been in this business for 12 years, is that this month is even slower than in years past. And it’s not just me. Furniture dealers who are much larger than me are down. I mean way down, fifty, sixty percent down.
Today, a local jewelry guy came in, and you’d think jewelry would be doing great, but he told me they’re slow.
I don’t know what’s going on. I’ve got people coming in, they love my furniture, and it’s not just lip service. But they’re not ready. It’s “a month, two months.” Maybe it’s the housing market and the uncertainty, but it’s not because dealers aren’t advertising enough, or the merchandise isn’t this or that. There’s just a general feeling that people are holding onto their money.
Then again, maybe it’s just early. We’ve got a few days left until Christmas. But as far as I’m concerned, I’m just waiting until January to see what the deal is.
Kelly Ryan of Runway 11, West Front Street
It got off to a slow start, but this week’s been real good, from this weekend on. This is our first Christmas here. I think this whole street is about to have a rebirth, so it’s real exciting.
Most of the things we have are about $100 or under, and for most people if they’re buying a gift for their sister or their wife, that’s about the cutoff. So I think we’re in the right price range.
A lot of people are greedy thoughthey shop for themselves (laughs). It’s not as much shopping for gifts as buying outfits to wear to parties, things like that. It’s more people dressing themselves right now. And some interesting guys coming in at night trying to find something for their chicks.
Dori Kershner, owner of Wooly Monmouth, Monmouth Street
Things are going well. I’m really pleased. Gift certificate sales are where I thought they would be.
The weather’s been a little warmer, which for me is a little bit tricky, because people don’t always think about knitting when it’s warmer out. But the fact that it’s now starting to cool down is good for me, so in the past couple of days, business has actually picked up a lot. The gift certificates are busy now; a month ago, I was busy with people knitting gifts.
I think I’m I’m track to do about the same level of sales as last year. I’m OK with that, because my business is in a better position. I’m only three years old, and every year you’re in business, you establish more equity, you have more inventory. The longer you’re in business, presumably, the better your business is doing, the more stable you are.
I see lots of people with packages from other stores in Red Bank, which makes me happy. I think the free parking was a good thing. And we still have a few days leftthe big daysso we’ll hope for the best.
Harriet Cook, Director of Operations, Red Bank RiverCenter
Some people say it’s up 25 percent, others say it’s been slow. I think the restaurants and retailers who know how to market themselves are doing well. (She cites Ten Thousand Villages, Quicksilver Jewelry, Funk and Standard and Hobbymasters.)
The parking lot’s full. The town looks busy. The weather’s been great.