While online shopping may be eating into the business of many brick-and-mortar stores, independent retailers in Raleigh say they had a banner holiday season.
Shop Local Raleigh, an organization that promotes independent businesses in Wake County, says its retailers report that sales were up an average of 20 percent his holiday season over last year. Several businesses say they broke their own one-day sales records, particularly the week before Christmas when people were looking for last-minute gifts, said Jennifer Martin, the group’s executive director.
“There are unique gifts and a better shopping experience when you go local,” Martin said. “It makes the gifts more personal.”
At Deco Raleigh, a gift shop downtown, sales were up almost 30 percent from last holiday season, said owner Pam Blondin. The store also broke its one-day sales record four consecutive days, and Blondin says her fourth quarter sales equaled the first three combined.
“People really wanted retail to work downtown,” Blondin said. “There has been a commitment to the store, and people like our products. They have been loyal and committed to the concept.”
Deco’s pop-up shop nearby did well, too. It partnered with the store Edge of Urge to fill the space with merchandise from November through December, vowing that 10 percent of sales would go to the “flight fund” to support public art projects.
Edge of Urge had at least five record-breaking sales days this holiday season. Owner Jessie Williams opened her original store in Wilmington in 2002 and added the Raleigh store in the shopping strip at Person and Franklin streets just before Christmas 2014.
“We had a great year,” she said. “People were out supporting small business and handmade. That’s becoming more and more popular. We’ve been doing it for so long that it’s nice to have people appreciate what we do.
Even a new store fared well this holiday season. Devolve Moto opened on South Glenwood Avenue at the beginning of October and had strong holiday sales, said owner Greig Hochreiter. The store has a full coffee, beer and wine bar and carries a variety of home and lifestyle products, apparel and camping and motorcycle riding gear.
“We crushed it,” Hochreiter said. “It was really busy the past couple weeks. With our selection, I knew it would be a huge hit around Christmas. We have great specialty items that lend themselves to gifts.”
In addition to the interest in shopping local, Raleigh’s independent retailers also have benefited from the revival of downtown, bringing an influx of new residents and workers to streets where chain stores don’t have a presence.
Alan Horwitz says his Reliable Loan and Jewelry on South Wilmington Street has a loyal following that keeps the business going steady more than 70 years after his grandfather opened the store. But he says the changes downtown have helped.
“The increased foot traffic is good, and people are still spending,” Horwitz said. “Raleigh is growing, and people are moving here. When Red Hat moved down here and all the new apartments were built, that helped us out a lot. It’s been a big improvement and a growing customer base.”