The rush is on: Holiday shoppers make season for Peninsula merchants

Posted: Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Christmas rush is on at local businesses.

Thompson's Log Gift and Jewelry usually sees an increase just before Christmas, said store manager Debbie Jackson.

"Our next three days will be the rush, and it's generally men," she said on Wednesday.

This week has already been busier than past weeks, although some of the store's sales come earlier in the season when people are buying Alaska gifts to send Outside, she said. Overall, Jackson said the season has seen an increase in business.

"The holiday season has been steady, not quite as good as last year," she said.

As shoppers finish their holiday purchases, Jackson wanted to remind them that her store isn't just for tourists.

"We have a lot of beautiful things for the locals also," she said. "We're grateful for the people that come in."

At River City Books, owner Peggy Mullen said her shop is feeling the increased traffic this year, just like it does every year.

"I think people kind of always wait till the last week," she said.

The store has been in business for 20 years, and has regular holiday customers, she said.

"We gift wrap -- they go home happy," she said.

The Kenai River Brewing Company has a pretty big holiday rush during the last two weeks before Christmas, said Joe Gilman, the brewer. And the entire Thanksgiving to New Years sales period sees a big increase in business.

"We offer gift certificates and they definitely go up over the holidays," Gilman said, adding that people use them for stocking stuffers and office parties. Sweatshirts and T-shirt sales have also increased.

The brewery didn't brew a seasonal ale this year because it has been busy getting ready to start canning its beer, but people are still coming in to get craft brews for holiday parties, he said.

"The locals definitely support their local breweries during this time," he said, adding that all three local breweries appreciate that support.

New businesses in the area said they've also enjoyed a holiday crowd. Fancy Pants on the Kenai Spur Highway has been open for about three months, said manager Kelsi Staton. The make-your-own craft business wasn't sure what to expect in terms of a Christmas crowd. But they've definitely seen an increase in traffic at the store.

The increase at the store is multifaceted. In the past few weeks, people have been coming in to make presents and to buy craft kits she put together for holiday gifts. Popular gifts have included Mason-glass snow globes, Christmas ornaments, paperweights, and even decorated T-shirts and hats, she said.

Plus, "Kids have also been coming in a lot for something to do," she said, now that the school is out for vacation.

The Enchanted Forrest Tea Shoppe in Soldotna is also celebrating its first Christmas. Owner Kate Forrest said things have been busy this week. The store is usually closed on Monday, but she lives next door, so she opened it up when customers started arriving, she said.

"I've actually had more people in this week than I normally do at the beginning of the week," she said. "For our first year, it's been great."

Molly Dischner can be reached at molly.dischner@peninsulaclarion.com.



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