With Thanksgiving over, the holiday shopping season is kicking into high gear. But what can we expect? We talked with area retailers to find out.
At York Mercantile, owner Amy York said in her 32 years, this year is the strangest, by far. With recent supply issues, she had to re-think Christmas, she said.
“People are asking, are you going to have this or that?” York said. “It’s like, good question. I don’t know what’s going to show up. There are things that I’ve ordered that are not coming. There are things I’ve been told we can’t get this year, and then a box arrives and there it is.”
York carries a lot of American-made products, but, for example, the packaging for her Man Bar Soap is produced overseas. She got them in recently, but had been waiting since June. In the meantime, she got some new products in to make up for it, such as Dr. Squatch Soap.
York said she won’t get her holiday gift bags in on time, even though she ordered them in January.
“There are things I’ve ordered in March or April that I still don’t have,” she said.
Instead of waiting for items to be shipped, a lot of times York will drive two or three hours after her store closes to pick things up.
“It takes a lot of my time and my gas, but I don’t have to pay shipping fees,” she said. “I don’t have to pay the freight charges and I can keep my prices down for my customers. The shipping is astronomical.”
On any given year, York works with new companies to get new products in, but has been doing more of that this year.
“I really don’t want to depend on whether it’s coming over on the boat or not,” she said.
York also said this year in general has been one of the slowest she’s seen.
“I think people have gotten used to shopping online,” she said. “I think they’re still hitting the big box stores.”
York said there’s still been some concern from customers about coming into stores due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of this, she has added curbside pickup.
York also hopes Small Business Saturday and upcoming downtown Sturgis holiday events will bring in customers.
At Willer’s Shoes, manager Elizabeth Denman said she’s seen some supply issues as well.
“I know a lot of people this year are anticipating that,” she said. “So everyone is suggesting buying early if you can. People are very understanding about it because everyone's in the same boat.”
Denman said last week that holiday shopping at Willer’s had been starting slowly. After Thanksgiving is the big push, she said.
Some popular items at Willer’s now are Brighton and Uno de 50 jewelry, Birkenstocks and Uggs.
“We’ve been very lucky that our community and all of our customers have been willing to shop small and locally, not only here, but all over the downtown,” Denman said. “That’s been very, very nice. We appreciate that and we love to see them come in every time.”
At Open Door Gallery, artist Melanie Golden said the shop doesn’t have supply issues since items come from local artists. She did say things have been slower this year than last year. Last year there was a big push for shopping locally, she said, but she hasn’t seen as much of that this year.
“It’s still early, so it could pick up hopefully,” she said.
The gallery has a lot of new items geared toward the holidays, Golden said. Several artists have created unique, handmade ornaments. There’s new pottery coming in and the gallery also offers gift wrapping.
At Fiebig Jewelers, manager Ted Modert said the jewelry industry hasn’t been hit hard supply-wise at this point. He recently ordered a ring and will have it in five days, and it’s being made, he said. The store has been fortunate to have a lot of stock.
Service-wise, repairs have been going good, Modert said. He said last week he had seen a few holiday shoppers, but expected the most after Thanksgiving.
“We get a little crazy the first part of December,” he said.
The holidays are a good time for engagements, Modert said, but also for sapphires, rubies and emeralds. The store also features sterling silver, gold, clocks, watches, specialty gifts and even holiday ornaments.
Fiebigs currently has a program where customers can fill out a wish list for a chance to win a $500 in-store gift certificate. Modert plays the part of Santa and makes the calls to shoppers.
Olive Fresh co-owner Betsy Rambadt said a recent downtown holiday open house went well. Her sister came down from Portage because she loves the downtown Sturgis shops, she said.
“Local is love,” she said. “People want to go shop to shop and enjoy.”
Rambadt said downtown Sturgis stores share the same heartbeat, with customers at the center. Inspired Finds owner Mary Jo Mestelle said she felt the same feeling of camaraderie coming in as a new business earlier this year.
Meanwhile, Jose Garcia, owner at San Jose Western Wear, predicts his holiday season might be slow. Summer is always his busy time, he said.
This article originally appeared on Sturgis Journal: news-holiday shopping outlook