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Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012 5 years ago

Shopping season is here, for the big and the small

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The holiday shopping rush is huge for all retailers. But the approach small businesses take can differ greatly from that of their national competitors.

BY MATT MENCARINI | STAFF WRITER

Shoppers clipped coupons and lined up outside stores, some shortly after their Thanksgiving dinners, waiting to take advantage of holiday deals.

The biggest shopping month of the year kicked off Black Friday, for national chains, as well as smaller local shops. But the approach each take to their most critical stretch of the year differ greatly.

For many larger stores, it was all about opening early and cutting costs on big-ticket items. Walmart, at 1521 Granada Blvd., for example, had three shopping events, 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Nov. 22, and 5 a.m. Nov 23, advertising discounted electronics and appliances.

But many local businesses weren't interested in that kind of marketing strategy..

“Let them beat each other up over all that,” said Todd Aldrich, owner of Aimee's Hallmark Shop. “We’re not in the game of 59” TVs. Nobody is banging down the door to get cards.”

But for Aldrich, November and December make up roughly 75% of his yearly business.

He said he opened his doors at 7:30 a.m. Black Friday, after stopping to get some breakfast. There was no rush to open the store, he said. It wasn’t until 8:30 a.m. that his first customer showed up.

Aimee’s Hallmark’s main holiday deal was a 20%-off bag. Customers picked up a bag at the front door, and anything they could fit into it was 20% off.

It’s too early to tell if this holiday shopping season will be as good as it was several years ago, Aldrich said, but he’s optimistic.

Thanksgiving was two days earlier this year than last year, he added. Those extra days can make a big difference in a stretch so vital to retail shops.

“You can never compete with the big-boxes,” said Gayle Giacobbe, co-owner of the Purple Dragonfly Boutique. “We’re not (a) big box. We can’t be the online capital.”

Giacobbe and her partner, Rebecca Taylor, said, that if past years can used as an indicator, the holiday shopping season will bring in about two to three times as much revenue as an average month.

And, for Giacobbe and Taylor, its the shop's year-round nonprofit initiatives that help make the difference, not opening their doors earlier than their competitors.

To take extra advantage of the local angle, the Purple Dragonfly also started accepting American Express cards last year, to be included in the company’s Small Business Saturday promotion.

Those kinds of initiatives help bring in first-time customers, who Giacobbe and Taylor say often turn into regulars.

Instead of opening early with extreme bargains, the Purple Dragonfly Boutique also is opting to offer new promotions each week throughout the holidays, as well as free gift-wrapping.

But other local businesses rely solely on Black Friday for revenue.

For the past five years, Jim and Carol Croni have had a garage sale every year at their home, at the intersection of Granada Boulevard and Magnolia Avenue. They start at 7 a.m., Carol Croni says, and have people stop by in their pajamas, either on their way to or from the mad shopping rush occurring just outside of their suburb.

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