Store owners having merry Christmas with sales

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 20, 2009

NATCHEZ — Natchez helping Natchez has been the theme of this year’s Christmas shopping season, local business owners said.

Store managers and owners say they have seen more local shoppers this year than last year and that trend has helped their bottom line tremendously.

Purchasing items in locally owned shops returns sales tax dollars to the city and also supports store owners and store employees who contribute to the local economy.

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Katie McCarstle, owner of Katie’s Ladies Apparel, said she has seen more familiar faces this year than last year.

“Things took off the first of December and we haven’t stopped yet,” she said. “You can really tell a difference from last year.

“Everyone who has been in here today has been local.”

McCarstle isn’t the only shop owner experiencing a jump in sales this Christmas season. Jonathan Wood, owner of Old South Trading Post in Natchez said of his six years in business in Natchez this Christmas shopping season has been the best.

“This year is going to set all records for Christmas,” he said.

Wood said shoppers in his store are spending more time looking for the perfect gift. He said he believes shoppers want to make sure they are getting something special for those on their gift lists.

“I believe customers this year are looking for more value for the dollar this year,” he said. “They are spending a lot of time looking for quality gifts.”

McCarstle said her customers are taking their time finding the right gift, too.

“Even the guys are spending more time,” she said. “We have a lot of guy shoppers in December that would come in and grab something, but now they are really looking around and thinking about what they buy.”

Wood said large, national stores don’t offer the special, personal gifts that shoppers are seeking this year.

“Unique items are what people want to give this year,” Wood said. “And we have items that they aren’t finding elsewhere and that brings them back.”

At Turning Pages Books and More, store manager Pat Butler said holiday sales have been brisk this year and seem to be higher than last year’s numbers.

“It seems that the idea of shopping Natchez has really caught on,” she said. “We’ve seen a lot of our regular customers, but also locals that don’t shop with us as often.”

Butler said shoppers are taking their time finding perfect gifts for people of all ages.

“It seems that is has been spilt 50-50 between children and adult gifts,” she said. “And people are really buying our autographed books as well.”

Butler said people are gravitating toward books with a local spin, and Wood said that is happening at his store as well.

He said there seems to be a renewed pride in Natchez this year that has folks purchasing specialty Natchez gifts.

“We are seeing customers taking pride in the fact that they are from Natchez or are current residents of Natchez,” Wood said. “Sweatshirts, mugs, those are all selling well. We are shipping them to as far away as Anchorage, Walla Walla, Wash., England and France.

“This has been an exciting year for us.”