Businesses hopeful for holiday | SierraSun.com

Businesses hopeful for holiday

Christina Nelson

Although December is probably the busiest month for retail stores, downtown business owners say sales begin to pick up later in the month.

“I’ve stopped trying to predict,” said Lisa Miller, owner of Down By the River, a gift and clothing store.

Miller said the downtown boutique stores tend to get business when the malls in Reno are crowded and people get sick of driving so far.

She said most of her holiday business comes right before Christmas, when locals are doing last minute shopping.

“It’s the last-minute thing,” Miller said, adding that she’s often at the store late on Christmas Eve. “[Customers] just panic and they’ll start dropping money.”

Miller said her store will stay open later as Christmas approaches and will do free gift-wrapping.

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Some business owners said the late Thanksgiving and lack of mid-week skiers has slowed business down a bit.

“People are starting to kick in with their Christmas shopping,” said Kathe Sorrentino, owner of Truckee Train and Toy, who has been placing lots of orders for customers in the last week or so.

Sorrentino said she was a little worried about holiday business this year because November was a relatively slow month. Thanksgiving, which coincided with the start of Hanukkah, picked things up.

“The biggest shopping day of the year fell on Hanukkah,” she said.

Lucia Martin, owner of the gift store Earthsongs, also said Thanksgiving weekend was great.

“It’s probably about 25 percent of our business for the entire year from Thanksgiving to New Year’s,” she said.

Although about 30 percent of her sales are shipped to out-of-state customers, Sorrentino of Truckee Train and Toy said she loves to see local parents and their children in her store.

Martin agreed that while tourists are very important to the downtown economy, locals have a major impact.

“They’re our favorite customers because we see them again,” Martin said.

She said she doesn’t feel that business will be better or worse this year compared to last.

“I actually think [business] will be good for us,” Martin said. “I don’t think it will be slower.”

A couple of new business owners said they’re curious to see what the holiday season will bring.

“I’m just going with it,” said Kris Quaintance, owner of Soapworks and More in the train depot. “I’m trying to stock up to make sure I have enough of everything.”

Quaintance has been busy making special holiday soaps, like a green and red soap with almond and cinnamon scents and Christmas gift baskets.

Laura Zander of Jimmy Beans Wool said she gets e-mails and calls from second homeowners who frequent her store when they’re in town.

“The people who couldn’t make it for Thanksgiving are coming up for Christmas,” she said.