The holiday shopping season is off to a good start, according to many local retailers.
Out of 22 local businesses polled Monday by The Augusta Chronicle, 18 said their Black Friday weekend sales were better than last year’s, two said their numbers were about the same and two said sales were down from last year’s.
Hope Seamon, the owner of La Dee Da Home Decor & Gifts in North Augusta, said she remembers the weekend as a blur.
“That’s how I know it went well,” she said with a laugh. “I barely remember what I had to eat.”
The weekend was a roaring success for her business, and sales were double what they were last year. She even opened Sunday to accommodate the steady stream of customers.
La Dee Da ran a few specials, Seamon said, but she doesn’t think of herself in competition with larger retailers running midnight doorbuster deals. The store opened at its usual 10 a.m.
“I think if people are going to do the whole shopping thing, they’re going to go home and rest for a while and then come back out to the local stores,” she said. “I think a lot of my customers don’t even try to battle the big store crowds.”
La Dee Da offers decorating services during the holidays, and Seamon said they have already booked all but a few appointment times.
“I’m very optimistic about this season and very excited,” she said.
The weekend was also a success for Lionel Smith Ltd. on Laurens Street in Aiken. Sales were up 10 percent over last year, owner Van Smith said.
“It felt more like Thanksgiving weekends of old. We had more people walking downtown and more people in the businesses. Not just my business. I saw it all over the place,” Smith said. “Both days were really good. I’m optimistic that this is going to be a good Christmas season. I feel there’s going to be a lot of pent-up spending.”
Weekend sales at The Curiosity Shop on Park Avenue in downtown Aiken were up 30 percent from last year, owner John B. Heaton said. The shop sells imported grocery, jewelry and clothing items.
“I think the shoppers this year tend to be a little bit more optimistic than they have been in the past about the economy,” Heaton said. “We were packed all day Saturday. We were very pleased with the weekend sales and the amount of people that were coming in and looking at things.”
Dianne Wood, who owns Peacock Hill in Thomson, said her business did not experience the high sales numbers other stores did.
“I think most people went to Augusta to get Black Friday deals,” she said. “They wanted to hit a lot of stores at once.”
Wood said she is still optimistic about this holiday season but doesn’t expect it to get going until after Dec. 1.
“I’m very optimistic,” she said. “For us, once people get Black Friday done with, then they start doing their local shopping.”
Linda Rybicki, manager of the Grovetown and Aiken locations of Boots, Bridles & Britches, said the stores did did well over the weekend but not as well as previous Thanksgiving weekends.
“We were certainly happy with the numbers,” she said.
The stores did at least double the business of typical nonholiday weekends and sold more items such as apparel and boots, rather than saddles or other large items, she said.
Business was about the same, maybe slightly up, at The Toy Box in Surrey Center, owner Juli Means said.
“For a small boutique store, obviously we don’t have the lines wrapped around the building like some of the big box stores do. But what you have is a great atmosphere for shoppers and a great way to kick off the holiday season,” Means said.
“We’re busy, but it’s not so busy that people can’t enjoy shopping and looking around. This is a fun shopping atmosphere, whereas I think some of the
big stores are just busy crowds.”
This holiday shopping season, Means predicts sales will be up or the same. She’s optimistic because she’s heard many people haven’t started their holiday shopping.
“That’s encouraging for local shops,” she said. “That means if they’re waiting this late, they’re going to come and shop locally and let us wrap for them and deliver and get the customer service they’re looking for, instead of trying to go online.”
At The Shop and Drop, a consignment store in Martinez, Allison Adams said her first Black Friday as a shop owner went well, but business was much better Saturday.
“Next year, we won’t do anything on Black Friday,” she said. “I think a lot of people were sleeping in Friday after going to the mall at midnight.”
Sales were also up from last year at PeachMac on Washington Road in Evans, said president Darryl Peck.
“It was a terrific day. … We think it’s going to be a great holiday season all around,” Peck said.
Columbia County Bureau Chief Donnie Fetter contributed to this report.