January blues?

Published 6:00 am Sunday, January 7, 2007

The hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping has passed. Decorations are coming down, and businesses getting back to normal — or are they?

For some businesses, January is a time for owners and managers to step back and take a breath — and take inventory.

For others, the frenzied pace of holidays continues unabated.

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For still others, new shopping seasons bring customers back to the stores, helping to keep the bottom line on the plus side.

At Katie’s Ladies, a women’s clothing store, January brings the 50-percent-off sale.

“It’s out with the old and in with the new in January,” owner Katie McCarstle said.

“Our spring clothes start coming into the store in January. That revitalizes our stock and revitalizes us because we like seeing the new things.”

What’s more, many stores, Katie’s included, benefit from the Mardi Gras season that the new year brings.

“We’re blessed with Mardi Gras,” McCarstle said. “It’s a pickup we need, a boost to the economy, and it affects a lot of businesses. I know it’s made a difference in my business.”

Antiques dealer Annette Holder also is upbeat about January — not that there aren’t quiet days as compared to November and December, but customers keep coming in January, she said.

Her Franklin Street business, Mrs. Holder’s Antiques, sells lampshades, and January is a big month for those sales.

“People are fluffing up for Pilgrimage. People are spring cleaning,” she said.

“They are getting rid of the Christmas decorations and notice the things they need to do in the house, which might be new lampshades or a new piece of furniture.”

Mardi Gras brings customers to her, as well. “I sell jewelry, and people come in to buy jewelry or gifts for the Mardi Gras kings and queens.”

Natchez is always a busy place, Holder said. “I remain optimistic.”

Buster Jamison, award-winning sales manager at Great River Honda, said preparing for January takes thought during the latter part of the year.

“January always has been a slow month,” Jamison said. “Our busiest season is September to December. We try to get the bulk of our orders in during that time.”

Still, as the company ranks No. 2 in ATV sales in the country, the mild slowdown is nothing to worry about at Great River.

“The ATV is a good year-round seller. We sell at low prices the year around, and we draw people from a 400-mile radius,” Jamison said.

Managing January is something that comes natural to him since he has been in the business for 30-plus years. “And I have a very experienced staff,” he said.

Inventory is important at Anruss Salon and Spa, as well, said owner Angela Wagoner.

“We’re still very busy in January, but not like December,” she said.

The slowest month at the salon is September, she said. “I call it the private-tuition blues.”

Like Katie’s Ladies, Anruss has a 50-percent-off sale on its gifts. “We like to reduce that inventory,” Wagoner said.

Employees remain busy with the usual hair, nail and facial treatments, however. “People are setting up gift certificates they received for Christmas, and that keeps us busy,” she said.

Kent and Dianne Kirby find January a continuation of the hectic pre-Christmas season, as Dianne’s Frame Shop is as busy this week as the first week of December.

“We had a lot (of framing) left over from December, and we’re doing that now,” she said. “People came in during November and December with things that weren’t for Christmas; they said we could wait until after Christmas to do those.”

With those jobs that were held plus people coming into the shop with gift certificates and with new art that needs framing, the store is hopping, she said.

“We’ve been in business 27 years in February,” Kirby said. “We’re getting ready for Mardi Gras (in the gift section) and getting the store ready for new things. We’re going to market next week.”