Holiday shopping season kicks off

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Holiday shopping season kicks offNow that Black Friday has a supporting cast that includes Gray Thursday, Small-Business Saturday and Cyber Monday to contend with, the glory of the formerly one-day shopping mecca appears to be fading somewhat — at least locally.

While many spokespersons are still reporting brisk numbers for the traditional kick-off to the holiday shopping season, others were left underwhelmed by the sales.

One possible indication that the power of the local Black Friday may be flagging, or at least diffusing, is in the number of vendors who declined to comment on this year’s shopping traffic.

Based on reports collected by the News Review, the big-box stores that published “door-buster” circulars saw the heaviest traffic, while the locally owned stores (even those that fared well over the weekend) do not expect to see peak sales until Christmas week.

Carols Perez, store manager of Kmart, said that the best day for the store was Thursday. “We had about 400 customers waiting in line to come in,” he said. “It was a really, really good day.”

Perez said that Black Friday week is typically the busiest time for the store. Among the hot items this year are electronic tablets — which he said have been selling well for many brands.

Kim Right of Home Depot said that Black Friday is typically the store’s busiest day — and that this year they seemed to be even busier than last year.

Popular items this year included tool sets, hand tools and power tools, she said. “We sold out of a lot of stuff — mostly the combo kits, and also some of the kids’ teddy bears.”

Ryan Loewen, manager of Loewen’s, said that their traffic was about in line with what he was expecting.

“This is a pretty good weekend for the store, but our biggest days are typically the week before Christmas and the week before Super Bowl. And honestly, I think Super Bowl is still bigger than anything else.”

He said that among the popular specials in his store this year are the packages that feature TVs and stands, or TVs and subwoofers.

Loewen predicted that televisions with the new 4K resolution are going to be the hot items for his store this year. “This is a new technology that hit the market about a month ago. For those that don’t already know, this is about twice as many pixels as the previous technology. This is the crispest picture you can get.”

Loewen said that his store keeps prices competitive with the larger chain stores, but still offers the quality service of a small store.

Maturango Museum staffer Julie Stephens said that Black Friday was nonremarkable for the gift shop — which carries a wide variety of novelty items, as well as those that highlight some signature feature of the Indian Wells Valley and those crafted by local authors and artisans.

“Friday was about like a normal day of sales,” she said. “But Saturday and Sunday were actually better than average for us.”

The Historical Society, which hosts a Black Friday event for local consignors at the Historic USO Building, reported a large crowd and satisfied vendors.

Mary Kelly, owner of Kelly’s Closet, said her “Small Business Saturday” special also went well. “We sold a lot of jackets and sweaters, which seem to be the popular items right now,” said Kelly.

Nathan Ahle, President-CEO of the Ridgecrest Chamber of Commerce, reminded local shoppers of the importance of buying locally whenever possible.

“There are so many reasons to do this — among the most important that when you spend money in Ridgecrest a portion of that sales tax stays here to pay our police officers, pave our roads and maintain our parks.”

But he added that consistent support from the community also ensures diverse local shopping options in the future. “Patronizing our local stores helps keep them open, which is important if we want to continue to have shopping opportunities in our valley.

“Many of these locally owned and operated stores are also the same ones that support our youth and other worthy causes by donating regularly. Bringing your business to these stores means is not only a good way to encourage that continued endowment, but it’s a great way to say thank you.”

Story First Published: 2012-11-28