Main Street merchants optimistic

akrause@norwalkreflector.com Despite a struggling economy, local merchants say they foresee a strong holiday shopping season for their business. For Colonial Flower and Gift Shoppe owner Bill Taylor, the reason is simple: He feels he has unique items the larger chains do not carry. Santas decked out in Ohio State and Michigan emblems and colors, a variety of other Santas, a new set of Christmas dishes and Webkinz are just some of them.
Aaron Krause
Jul 25, 2010

 

akrause@norwalkreflector.com

Despite a struggling economy, local merchants say they foresee a strong holiday shopping season for their business.

For Colonial Flower and Gift Shoppe owner Bill Taylor, the reason is simple: He feels he has unique items the larger chains do not carry.

Santas decked out in Ohio State and Michigan emblems and colors, a variety of other Santas, a new set of Christmas dishes and Webkinz are just some of them.

"It's the hottest thing since Beanie Babies," Taylor said, referring to Webkinz.

The plush pet has access to a kid safe online interactive environment where the plush is transformed into a pet. Each Webkinz arrives from the Webkinz Store with its own unique special tag and Webkinz secret code that can only be read after it has been delivered.

This code is the password into Webkinz World, an interactive, educational, online environment. After logging in, the adoption process begins and kids can name and learn all about their new Webkinz pet and print their adoption certificate.

Taylor said his business has held up despite economic woes, and he expects a busier holiday shopping season than previous years.

Just don't get your hopes up if you see a six-foot tall Santa in Taylor's store; he's already sold it.

Taylor and others said sales will continue, despite financial hardships. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 22 states and the District of Columbia recorded over-the-month unemployment increases.

The two states reporting over-the-year declines in employment were Michigan (-1.7 percent) and Ohio (-0.2 percent).

In Huron County, the unemployment rate was 7.2 percent for October, up from 6.9 percent in September.

Still, Diamond Collection owner Ken Missler estimated business at the Norwalk jewelry store picked up 20 to 25 percent.

Missler said customers are looking for unique, custom-designed.

"I'm optimistic, I really am," he said.

So is Robin Stang, an employee at Crider Quality Jewelers, also on Main Street.

She noticed an increase in business starting in October.

"It will be a good season," she said.