Retail sales in November and December could be the highest on record, according to a National Retail Federation forecast – and local retailers are hoping to get on that bandwagon.
The federation predicts that holiday sales will increase from 8.5% to 10.5% in November and December 2020, according to an October 27 press release.
The holiday sales help small retailers keep their lights on during the slower months of the year, said Emily Ross, owner of Yobel Market in downtown Colorado Springs.
“People are really aware of this,” she said. “I think people really want to connect with their communities.”
Many stores sell local or regional products and take action to make holiday shopping appealing.
“We have seen a resurgence of interest from people,” said Laurel Prud’homme, vice president of communications at the Downtown Partnership in Colorado Springs. “I think they missed it last year.”
SPECIAL FOR SMALL BUSINESS
Sales at Yobel Market, a social enterprise boutique that offers handcrafted clothing and accessories locally and around the world, were strong this fall, Ross said, and traffic was flat, except from a drop in early November.
The store offers discounts on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday purchases.
Ross and her husband Clay bought Yobel Market in September 2019.
The store, originally founded by Ross’s friends Sarah Ray and Donovan Kennedy, was located at Ivywild School at the time of the sale.
At first, Ross and Clay both had full-time jobs and ran the business next door, she said.
Six months after taking office, the pandemic struck and their shared space at Ivywild was closed for four months.
The Rosses had dreamed of moving downtown, and the pandemic hastened their move.
“It was necessary, otherwise we would have gone bankrupt,” said Ross.
In September, Ross decided to resign from his human resources management position; she started full time at Yobel Market in October.
“Everything we sell is fair trade, ethical fashion,” she said. “We make sure, through extensive research and relationships, that no slave labor is used in any of the products we offer. “
Many items are unique, such as jewelry crocheted from sterling silver thread by artisans in Lima, Peru. The store has a partnership with the group that has been producing the parts for 10 years.
“When people hear that they are supporting the women in Peru with their gift, they get really excited,” Ross said. “They love to hear the stories behind what we wear. “
Sales of most of Yobel Market’s jewelry offerings are aimed at supporting organizations that fight sex trafficking, she said.
The store also carries merchandise from top brands known for their ethical and sustainable practices, Ross said. The store’s strong and long-standing partnerships have kept it well-stocked.
In addition to supporting artisans and businesses whose values match theirs, the Rosses sell Yobel-branded products including t-shirts, hoodies and mugs, and donate all proceeds to Springs Rescue Mission.
Online sales have helped sustain the business and remain strong, Ross said.
“We have a local pickup option,” she said. “If anyone sees something we’ve posted, they can check the local pickup and show up at lunchtime. We also ship everywhere.
Ross makes a point of supporting other small businesses.
“We always stay open for the First Friday Art Walks and showcase the galleries,” she said. “We can all promote each other. ”
Yobel offered Ax and Oak Distillery liquor drinks during Friday happy hours this fall, and the store sometimes hosts pop-up markets.
“We like to partner with other small businesses,” Ross said. “It’s wonderful that the dollars stay here.”
Laura Reilly was among the first local artists to join Artists Sunday, a nationwide trade event to support artists, galleries and nonprofit arts organizations that started last year.
For the holidays, she offers a special collection of small paintings.
“These are small, original, beautifully framed works of art that are very attractively priced for gifts,” she said. Reilly will ship them free of charge anywhere in the continental United States.
“Personally, I truly believe in the power of art to improve and enrich people’s lives,” she said. “I still have original unframed paintings that start at $ 49. I want anyone who wants one to be able to have one.
Reilly also wears ceramic ornaments which are reproductions of some of his original paintings, as well as 2022 calendars.
Reilly, a well-known and established artist from the Pikes Peak area, said she has a steady stream of customers this fall.
“Sales have been good from both the returning buyers from distant collectors who follow me, and the locals, and a lot of new people as well,” she said.
Although the gallery was closed for three weeks in September while Reilly was artist in residence at Indiana Dunes National Park, online sales have kept its results from weakening.
Reilly’s gallery in Old Colorado City has been open for almost 11 years.
“I’ve had galleries and studios all over town for over 30 years,” she said. “My typical pattern has been to move to a different location about every three years. But this little place was so wonderful that I stayed here the longest. It is my favorite.
Whenever the gallery is open, Reilly paints.
“I think people are intrigued to see an artist working in space,” she said. “They will come just to see what I’m doing and chat with me. I have a sign outside that says, ‘Come in and see what I’m painting today.’ “
Reilly, who calls himself an “artist-entrepreneur”, promotes his work through an email newsletter sent to his main collectors and through social media posts.
“As an artist I have two jobs,” she said. “The first is to make the art that is in my heart. The second part is to make this art known to the world and share it with as many people as possible while making a living. “
Reilly said she has created many commission paintings for people since the start of the pandemic. She thinks it’s at least in part because “during Zoom meetings they want something interesting on the wall behind them.”
Reilly relies on sales during busy seasons – summer and the holidays – but commission work also helps him get through the generally slower first quarter of the year.
Sales of companies through designers and architects, which fell in the first year of the pandemic, picked up “dramatically,” she said.
“I have to admit that I am in a thriving business environment,” she said. “I can’t underestimate the value of being surrounded by hard-working entrepreneurs. These other businesses around me have wonderful deals for their customers and do their own promotions, bringing people to the area, and I take that. I hope to be a good neighbor by doing the same.
SUPPORT TO STORES
The Downtown Partnership will set up a booth in Acacia Park on Small Business Saturdays to distribute a booklet of Downtown vacation coupons and other promotional items.
Throughout the holiday season, the organization will help support local small businesses and attract downtown shoppers with events like Skate in the Park, which opened on November 12. The Festival of Lights parade on December 4 also benefits downtown merchants.
After adjusting to pandemic restrictions last year – parade participants were stationed in the Broadmoor World Arena while parade watchers passed by to see them – this year’s 38th annual parade returns to downtown Colorado Springs and is expected to attract tens of thousands of spectators.
During the annual holiday walk on December 8, downtown stores will stay open late and have special offers.
“Our stores are ready for the holidays,” said Prud’homme. “The fall buying, in general, has been encouraging – but the small businesses are not out of the woods yet. They are still recovering from the pandemic in many ways. “
The supply chain crisis has had a different impact on small businesses than big box stores, she said.
“The traders have done a really good job being creative and finding new and different suppliers,” she said.
“One of the things people love about shopping at local businesses is that you talk to the store owner, people who are very passionate about what they do, and they know a lot,” said Prud’homme.
“So you can come in and say, ‘I have this need or this interest or this friend that I’m looking for,’ and you get some really good advice,” she said. “This experience is so different from that of big box stores or shopping online. It’s all this experience that people missed last year and want to relive.