Holiday shoppers give boost to local businesses by M. Jill Karolevitz The weather may not be exactly what people expect for this time of year, but it�s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Vermillion�s retail community.
With the holiday shopping season in full swing, most local merchants are satisfied with the traffic they�ve seen in their stores.
�It�s been tremendous,� said Howard Willson of Willson Florist. �I�m very satisfied. We�ve had a lot of people come in.�
Willson is quick to point out, however, one of the challenges he and his peers face every day in Vermillion.
�We have a tendency to think that it�s easier for people to shop out-of-town,� he said. �But I�ve finally come to the realization that we can�t stop that. So we have to provide a product that people want to shop for here. We have to find a niche � something unique and different that they can�t find elsewhere.
�We can�t compete with the big mass markets,� Willson continued. �But we can provide good service, quality products and uniqueness. I can�t stress that enough.�
Pat Tigert of Tigert Art Gallery, is enthusiastic about this year�s holiday season as well.
�It�s been great for us,� she said. �We�re so thankful. We�re seeing repeat customers and new people are coming in.
�We have a bountiful supply of inventory � we�re full � so we can try and meet our customers� needs,� she added.
Choice Pharmacy also has a large supply of items specifically ordered for Christmas shoppers.
�We�ve got tons of giftware, toys and lots of Christmas items,� said Ray Gill, manager. �Business hasn�t been too bad, either. We�re happy. The traffic has been good.�
Nook �N Cranny�s Christmas season started Nov. 7 with an open house.
�We�ve been hopping ever since,� said owner Gloria Christopherson. �We always increase our inventory � it goes
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way up � for the holiday season with more gifts and more Christmas items, and our business has evolved into more of a focus on home decor, so that�s been good for us. It�s been a good season so far and I pray that it holds on a little longer.�
The mild weather may be a deterrent for some people to �get into the mood� to shop for Christmas, �but pretty soon they�re going to look at the calendar and be forced to get in the mood,� Christopherson said.
�A little snow would probably help,� added Dan Kenton, manager of Pamida. �Business has been pretty good � our Christmas merchandise has sold well, but if we had some snow and colder weather, the seasonal goods, such as mittens, shovels, flannel blankets and jackets, would move better.�
Garrett Fast, manager of Campbell Supply, agreed.
�The worse the weather is, the busier we are,� he said. �But considering the warm weather we�ve had, the traffic has been good. The Christmas season has been going well for us so far.�
Deb Peterson, owner of Deb�s Hallmark, would like to see some snow as well.
�It�s been too nice,� she said. People aren�t thinking about Christmas. But I wouldn�t say business is down. The flow of traffic is good.�
Tom Lavin of Davis Pharmacy doesn�t expect to see much of a flurry of shopping in his store until Christmas is closer.
�A lot of our business happens at the last minute,� he said. �It gets kind of wild at the end.�
Sturdevant�s Auto Parts, now with an in-store RadioShack dealership, is the same way, according to manager Dave Anglin.
�A lot of our customers wait until the last week,� he said.
Both University of South Dakota students and community residents are shopping at USD Book & Supply, according to manager Les Parry.
�The two hottest things we have are anything with USD emblems, especially clothing, and they�re carrying out children�s books by the armload,� he said.
Earlene McNeil Larson�s Studio 109 is enjoying a good season of selling her original, hand-crafted items as well.
�The angel oil lamps are popular, along with the snowmen oil lamps and glass bulb ornaments,� she said. �I�ve been shipping a lot of orders out, too. Things are going well.�
Michele Larson, owner of the Index, is discovering that some shoppers are surprised to find what her store has to offer.
�It�s not just office supplies,� she said. �We have a lot of books, along with USD sportswear and art kits. We can also make personalized photo calendars and mouse pads, type and print Christmas letters and we have paper and matching envelopes for people who want to do their own Christmas greetings.�
Bill Brunick, owner of Brunick Furniture, has observed that his customers are shopping wisely.
�They�re more cautious,� he said. �They�re buying better quality items � making an investment � instead of buying something that would have to be replaced in a couple of years,� he said.
�Business has been good this season. It�s a little above average, but I�m pleased with the way things are going so far, although we would always like to see more,� he added with a laugh.
Gary Ashmore, owner of Ashmore�s, agreed.
�It�s always nice to see more traffic,� he said. �But the season is going great, even though we would do better once it starts looking like Christmas with a little snow.�
Judy Nygren of Coast to Coast is a little disappointed with the shopping season so far.
�I think it�s been slow this year,� she said. �It�s up to par, but not as much as I would like to see this close to Christmas.�
Dar Frye, owner of Cross Connections, is optimistic as days are marked off the calendar.
�Things are picking up as Christmas draws nearer,� she said.
Tim Christopherson of Dallas Jewelry, has the same opinion.
�Business is going pretty good,� he said. �And I expect it will get better.�