Archive for Wednesday, December 8, 1999

Cash registers ring up holiday sales

December 8, 1999

The Christmas spirit has hit area shoppers, according to owners of several area businesses. Retailers say they're benefiting from the booming national economy during the busiest shopping period of the year.

At Village Floral in Tonganoxie, holiday decorating is never-ending, said store owner Susan Quisenberry.

This time of year the best selling items are holiday decorations," she said.

In the five years Quisenberry has owned Village Floral, 528 E. Fourth, business has steadily increased, she said.

"We've been busier this year than we ever have," Quisenberry said. "We've added a gift line, and I think people are still just finding out about that."

Quisenberry anticipates that next year's business will continue its upward climb.

"As long as the economy is good, sales are going to stay up," she said. "I expect it to get even better, especially as the area grows."

At McKibbon Jewelers in Bonner Springs, owner Jacque Egnatic is so busy that her father, a retired jeweler, is traveling from Florida next week to help her.

"It's going very well," Egnatic said. "I'm having a difficult time keeping up. People keep coming in, and I keep giving delivery dates that are longer and longer."

Egnatic is handling a large amount of custom work. Standby items for the jewelry trade also are selling well this year.

"You always sell a lot of chains, a lot of earrings, and watches," said Egnatic, who's owned the store at 13030 Kansas Avenue for two years.

The robust national economy is a contributor to this year's brisk sales at McKibbon Jewelers, named for Egnatic's great-grandfather. In addition, the price of gold has dropped dramatically.

"It's at a really low price," she said. "It's really more affordable, actually."

For Melanie Starcher, owner of Tonganoxie's Backporch Friends, lunch-hour shoppers have helped make this Christmas season a merry one.

Starcher has owned the gift shop at the intersection of Third Street and U.S. Highway 24-40 for 10 years.

"The business has gradually grown over the years," Starcher said. "We usually get quite a lot of people coming here through the restaurant located across the hall."

She's seen some increase in business as additional houses are constructed in the area.

"But not all of the houses are filled yet," Starcher said. "What really helps add to the business is when more people work here. They're the ones who buy here they come in on their lunch hour. I think sometimes where you work is where you shop."

And what are they primarily shopping for in this store filled with everything from ornate Christmas decorations to candles, lamps and figurines? Starcher smiled and said, "The number one seller is Beanie Babies."

Sales for Beanie Babies are good again this year, she said.

"Grandparents are buying them for their grandchildren and collectors are buying them for themselves," Starcher said. "They're on the hunt for them."

Tucked away in McLouth is a shop full of fanciful surprises where, as usual, business is good and shelves are filled with Christmas decorations and gift items.

Corlis Weeks, owner of the McLouth Flower Loft for 13 years, said business this year is comparable to past years.

"I don't see any significant increase or decrease," she said. "We're looking forward to a busy last few weeks of the season."

A mainstay of her business is, and always has been, fresh flowers, Weeks said.

"We try to take special care with our fresh flowers so that our customers can get the most life out of them," she said.

The business covers a wide area, delivering in the Winchester, Oskaloosa and Tonganoxie areas, she said.

Starting a business in McLouth turned out to be a wise move, said Weeks, who worked in other retail shops before setting up there.

"There's a lot more growth here now and we just kind of took our chances then," Weeks said. "Since we lived here, we liked the idea of adding to the community by opening a business that would help the town."

Although the holiday rush demands more time to accommodate customers' needs, Weeks said the staffing remains the same.

"We just increase the hours that our regular staff works," she said.

Don Pelzl, who's owned True Value Hardware in downtown Tonganoxie for 20 years, said a remodeling job earlier this year has paid off.

"We're having a good Christmas season," said Pelzl, whose store is at 423 E. Fourth. "Sales are up some from last year."

Hot items in the store primarily are Christmas decorations, ranging from outdoor lights to tree decorations, Pelzl said.

"Angels have sold really well this year, too," he said.

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