Local Businesses Pleased with Holiday Sales

NEWPORT - Newport merchants are reporting positive news for the holiday shopping season. Some say they did about the same as last year, but others say sales were way up.Jim McKimm with the Memphremagog Arts Collaborative (MAC) said business was up this season 60 percent over last year. “The artists are very excited about it,” he added. The MAC stayed opened later hours in December leading up to Christmas and that decision was a good one, McKimm said, one that paid off with extra shoppers.Woodknot Bookshop and Turner’s Café also report an increase in patrons over last year in their retail section, as well as their café area. This is the third year the store is under the ownership of Megan Barcelos and Kristian Waagen. The first year was a busier year; last year around the holidays, business seemed to be in a bit of a slump. But this year things were hopping once again. “It’s really encouraging,” Waagen said.The Great Outdoors reports business about the same as last year. Store owner Nathan Cochran said that Internet shopping is easy but shopping locally is convenient and the personal service can’t be beat. Cochran also said that the store’s prices stay competitive with the online market.The business from snowmobilers is slow right now at the Great Outdoors, an area of business that is typically booming this time of year with tourists. The warm temperatures and lack of snow have led to a slow start for the season.However, ski and snowboard enthusiasts are shopping at the store. The Great Outdoors does repairs on outdoor recreational gear and is always busy with that area of the business, and in fact is seeing an increase in repairs. Cochran said the current trend seems to be to repair older equipment.The store also leases ski and snowboard equipment for kids, and it is a very popular service, one that is competitive with the mountain rates, Cochran said.Pick & Shovel saw a good season and they are happy with the way it went this year, said Greg Hamblett, owner of the store. “We had a decent season; we are happy.”The numbers indicate about as many shoppers as last year. The popular items this year are the clothing lines, footwear, and outerwear. Years ago, housewares were the large draw to the store. But now apparel is a big draw for consumers. The store also saw a good response to its growing toy section.Hamblett said the items available in the store have evolved over the years to accommodate shoppers' needs.