According to unofficial reports more shoppers on the Peninsula seem to be buying locally and shopping more vigorously this year. The annual Kenai Arts & Craft fair reported 30 year record crowds and sales from their vendors and many local merchants are reporting sales either equal to or 10% greater than last year. "We sold out of our Aqua Globes the first few days we put them on sale and quickly re-ordered, but they're going fast again," said Paul Miller of Soldotna Trustworthy Hardware. "It's a good season for our chocolates, boots and warm slippers, that's our most popular item this time of year and they're going well with the big shopping days for us still ahead," said Mike Sweeney of the Working Man's Store. Steve Beeson of Beemun's agrees that business is good this year. The Peninsula Center Mall has the Peninsula's largest indoor snowman on display surrounded by local vendor booths offering Alaska made gift items through the holiday season.
Some attribute the increase in local shopping to the high price of fuel and others to the local shopping experience, "I've been out more this year than last and really enjoy the personal experience of knowing the folks behind the counter and being able to ask for gift or decoration advice, and I know if I have to return something I'll never have a problem and I won't have to make a hazardous trip to Anchorage," said a shopper at Northcountry Fair. "I think the local stores have done a better job of stocking their shelves and decorating this year, I've found everything I've been looking for and a greater selection then I think they had last year. They've been very successful in creating that warm, homey, holiday atmosphere in their stores. It makes me want to go shopping with family and friends. I may be trying to spend less this year, but I'm out shopping in the stores more and enjoying it more too," commented a Gottschalks shopper.
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