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iBerkshires.com Columnist Section

Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Local Shoppers Boost Downtown

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Thursday, December 29, 2005

Persnickety store owner Monique Suters with a "Groovy Girl" doll
North Adams – Local residents brought their holiday shopping lists to the city’s downtown during December, and delivered glad revenue tidings to numerous merchants.

"Absolutely Fantastic"

“It was absolutely fantastic, better that I anticipated,” said Persnickety store owner Monique Suters during a Dec. 29 interview at the Eagle Street premises. “I sold out of rocking horses. My baby doll section did fabulous. We sold a lot of castles and medieval figures. People were also looking to me for the more unique Lego sets, the sets that you don’t find in the mainstream. Erector sets were very popular and I sold all of the big sets. I had people who were driving up from Great Barrington and saying that they loved this town.”

Increased Customer Base

Galadriel’s Boutique owner Joanne Burdick said that a consistently expanding customer base and strong holiday sales culminated in a positive bottom line for the Main Street store. She is optimistic about the year ahead, she added.

“My Christmas was good,” she said. “My customer base expanded a lot, especially during the summer. I did see a lot of tourists, and many of my local customers shopped here during December. There have been very few returns. We have a wide range of items to pick from and people selected carefully. One of the really nice things about having a boutique in a small area is that I get to know my customers and their likes and preferences. I can help with gift purchases. I’m looking forward to February, when the spring inventory starts coming in and I think 2006 will be a good year.”

Downtown By Choice

Many shoppers said that they were shopping locally by choice, said Carolyn Moulton and her granddaughter Amy Moulton, who both work at Moulton’s General Store on Main Street.

“There were a lot of people who came in and said that they wanted to shop locally and were going to the local stores first,” Carolyn Moulton said. “People asked for specific items and if we didn’t have it, we referred to other downtown stores. We tried to work with the other businesses and keep people on the street.”

“I think business was better than last year,” Amy Moulton said. “I think all the stores were trying to work together.”


Moulton's General Store employee Amy Moulton said that holiday sales were good at the Main Street store.
Familiarity with products sold in other stores helped with referrals, she noted. For example, shoppers who asked for Burt’s Bees brand items were sent to Tangiers, a Main Street business that carries the product line.

Personal attention and friendly service attract and keep customers, said Carolyn Moulton.

“You have to be nice to the customers and that’s easy because our customers are very nice,” she said. “It’s like family. We get to know when a person is likely to stop in and what they are probably looking for. It really is fun.”

Both women said that they are very optimistic about 2006.

“It’s a growing business and things are getting better,” said Amy Moulton.

Downtown Variety

Local support is vital to the downtown success and Sports Corner manager Ben Bailey said that the local support was very evident during this holiday shopping season.

“Business was up over last year and we saw more local people who were shopping downtown,” Bailey said. “The support is vital to the downtown and to the community, because it is the local, downtown businesses that support community, not the Berkshire Mall. Have you ever seen any of the stores at the Berkshire Mall support one of the local sports teams? It’s the local business that does that.”

A business mix delivers a boost to the downtown, Bailey said.

“There is diversity to the street, a variety of stores,” he said. “It’s not all the same.”

Sports Corner appeals to young, active individuals with a range of athletic interests, he said, and noted that in addition to traditional sports such as soccer and baseball, many local folks are involved with skateboarding, snowboarding, bicycling, and paintball activities.

“We are athletically based and youth driven,” he said. “And most of our customers participate in at least four sports each.”

Sports Corner is at the corner of Main and Holden streets.

Downtown shopping venues include jewelry, clothing, gift, photography, consignment, vintage, and variety shops. Suncatchers offers stained glass art and instruction and the Gallery 51 art gallery features the work of area artists on a regular basis. The downtown also offers dining choices that range from the ultra-casual Jack's Hot Dog to the take-out or eat-in Moulton's Pizzeria, Gideon's Luncheon and Nightery on Eagle Street, and the more upscale Gideon's restaurant on Holden Street. Steeples restaurant is housed within the Holiday Inn on Main Street. Nearby eateries include Gramercy Bistro and brew-ha-ha, and Cafe Latino and Lickety-Split are located within the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art on Marshall Street. Molly's Bakery on Eagle Street offers freshly-baked goods such as cakes, pies, and pastries.

Local Dollars Made A Difference

DiLego’s jewelry store on Ashland Street enjoyed strong holiday sales, and store co-owner Cynthia Lamore said that an increase in local shoppers was noticed and appreciated.

“We did well and we are happy,” she said. “People made a real effort to shop locally and it made a difference.”

Fashion Bug clothing store manager Lida Watters said that sales were very strong.

“I think last week was our biggest week of the year,” she said. “We did well. We really pushed the gift cards, but they [corporate offices] didn’t send us enough cards, so we ended up relying on gift certificates, which really isn’t any different. We were very busy and now people are coming in with the cards and the certificates.”

The store is situated at the K-mart Plaza near Radio Shack.

The holiday shopping season proved profitable for the Crafty

Quality handmade items were popular with Crafty Creations customers.
Creations shop on Eagle Street, said Kathy West, one of the business’s five partners. Keith Bona, Dale Bona, Theresa Denault, and Mary Lou McKay round out the partnership.

“We did very well,” West said. “It was great. We had people coming in that had never come in before and suddenly we were seeing these people every two or three days. We have a good return customer base and we have a great amount of crafter talent. It’s really like a family, and I think that says a lot about the store, and about the city itself.”

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 802-823-9367.

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