Peninsula merchants happy with holidays

Posted: Thursday, December 28, 2006

Gift recipients weren’t the only ones pleased by diligent holiday shoppers this year. Local retailers say they reaped handsome holiday sales this year, leaving last year’s sales in the dust.

Carole Bear, Owner of Old Grey Mare Antiques and Gifts in Soldotna, said she initially worried this year’s holiday sales might be weak, but was relieved when sales turned upward as Christmas approached.

“I thought it was going to be a bad year because November was low,” she said. “But once December hit it made up for it. We were very busy in December.”

And by the time Christmas arrived, Old Grey Mare had raked in more sales this year than in 2005, she said.

Bear, however, wasn’t the only local retailer celebrating increased sales over last year’s holiday shopping season. Rick Powell, owner of Rick’s Second Hand in Soldotna, said holiday shopping trends at the store were similar to those in 2005, with shoppers snatching up lots of tool sets, swords and knives. But this year’s holiday sales jumped with at least a 25 percent increase over last year, he said.

This year’s shopping season was no less exciting for Fireweed Herb Garden and Gifts, said Porter Jordan, who is married to the store’s owner Susan Jordan.

“One word, awesome,” he said, when asked about this year’s holiday sales.

Porter said they had not yet finished up tallying receipts, but that both November and December were stronger this year than last and that December was particularly strong.

Porter said the store kept increasing their orders of popular items such as Frank Oma pottery and Yankee candles to keep up with demand.

“Our Frank Oma pottery baking line just flew out of here once our customers realized the quality of the product line,” he said.

Some of the store’s more unusual gifts were also popular with shoppers, he said.

“Believe it or not our talking gift bags, they love those,” he said.

Porter also said the store drew more sales by offering customers gift wrapping as well.

Joan Seaman, a merchandise manager at Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts in Soldotna, said holiday shoppers at the store bought lots of yarn and children’s crafts. Seaman said she could not disclose how the store’s sales holiday season sales compared to last year or how November compared to December, but said that she was pleased.

Other retailers said sales grew from November to December and Porter said that’s what he would normally expect.

“Just think about your own shopping patterns,” he said. “You go crazy the closer you get to Christmas Eve.”

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