From the pages of
The Sublette County Journal
Volume 4, Number 15 - 12/9/99
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Nov & Dec Second Busiest Months for Pinedale Retailers

by Jennifer Binning

Although the conventional wisdom dictates that the day after Thanksgiving is the biggest shopping day of the year, most Pine Street retailers would dispute that notion.

In general, the shops lining Pinedale's main drag are seeing the first wave of the Christmas shoppers, and the numbers are expected to increase as the countdown to Christmas begins.

Joanne Hines of Bears Trading has seen a seasonal jump in sales of her women's clothing, while gift items, such as the stuffed bears and throws account for about 25% of this increase.

Ms. Hines estimates that the Christmas season accounts for about 10% of her yearly sales, which seems like a small amount, she says, until you consider the brisk sales during the summer tourist season. Like many Pinedale stores, Bears Trading participates in the local Chamber of Commerce promotions, and offers free gift wrapping, but does not offer any special Christmas sales beyond those normally in the store at any given time.

Tina Rock of the Great Outdoor Shop agrees that the Christmas retail season does not quite add up to the numbers seen in the summer, but there is no doubt it ranks right up there. Christmas shoppers began browsing in the Great Outdoor Shop right after Thanksgiving, but Ms. Rock feels business is a bit slower this year than in previous years, but it is showing signs of picking up. For the most part, the GOS is selling winter clothes, with a few skis and the occasional fly rod thrown in for a change of pace.

Bob Bing of the Cowboy Shop said December is the second busiest month for him, right after the peak of the tourist season in July. At the moment, Mr. Bing feels it is too early to tell how the store will fair this season, as the shoppers have only just begun to start shopping in earnest. "The last week before Christmas is crazy," says Mr. Bing, "it gets really serious the last week before Christmas."

Coast to Coast's Dale Hill agrees that the last few days before the holiday can be a bit nutty. He speaks from personal experience that most men wait to shop on the 22nd, 23rd and 24th of December, and that when the critical moment comes, men cannot for the life of them remember what their wife really wanted for Christmas.

Coast to Coast is a bit unusual, in that Christmas shoppers will begin drifting in when the holiday sale flyer comes out in October. Mr. Hill estimates that about 5-10% of yearly sales comes from buying Christmas gifts, but it is a bit difficult to estimate, given that a lot of people are buying shovels, salt, and a lot of other snow removal tools right now.

Mr. Hill feels that toolboxes and hand tools are going to be a hot item this year, as are children's bikes and binoculars.

Early in the season, just after Thanksgiving, the bulk of purchases at Coast to Coast are for decorations, lights and a very few presents. As the holiday looms closer, gifts will replace decorations as the bulk of the sales.

Dennis Peters of Pinedale True Value seems to do quite a brisk business during the Christmas season. Mr. Peters feels his best months are in the early spring, when his greenhouse is overflowing with plants ready to beautify a yard. November and December, however, account for roughly 25% of sales throughout the year. Mr. Peters will put out the Christmas inventory as it begins to arrive at the store in November, and has seen the occasional person who is able to finish their Christmas shopping by the end of November.

During this time of the year, Mr. Peters or his wife Candy is kept very busy manning the UPS scale. One of them must be behind the counter at all times to keep things running smoothly. The UPS shipping usually peaks this week, as packages sent after next week must go by air to get to their destination on time. Although sales of the new Radio Shack equipment are brisk, decorations, wrapping paper and lights make up the bulk of Christmas season sales.

Betty Hunt at the Pinedale Area Chamber of Commerce said it is still too early to tell if the Chamber's "Shop Locally" campaign was successful. Unfortunately, due to all of the activities scheduled during last weekend, the late night shopping walk was not nearly as well attended as in years past. Ms. Hunt feels a lot of people still drive out of town to shop, and she and the other Chamber members are hard at work trying to think of ways to keep shoppers in Pinedale for this second biggest retail season of the year.

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