CHRIS MAYS, Brattleboro Reformer
WILMINGTON -- How are people being more conscious of shopping locally during the holidays?
As part of a holiday shopping campaign, the Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce set up a deal where customers bring their receipts of $10 or more to its location on Main Street and they are given a coupon for $5 off at any local store.
One of the chamber’s employees told the Reformer that approximately 500 coupons had been given out on Saturday.
"People came in and out," she said. "There was a constant flow of business, which is good. It’s the first time the town had been that busy all winter."
The deal began on Saturday. People can take advantage of it until Dec. 24. Receipts must be dated between Nov. 29 and Dec. 23. Raffle tickets are also given for every $10 spent.
There are 950 coupons and once those run out, the deal will be over. People can sign on to WilmingtonWorksVT.com to sign the pledge to shop local or sign up at the chamber office.
Most shops in the downtown region have joined the campaign.
Beyond Imagination, a clothing and home boutique, saw more sales on Saturday but Friday was also described as a good day. The deals included 20 percent discounts off sweaters and jackets with 30 to 70 percent off other items.
The clothing and home boutique opened in September 2012.
Last year, the boutique owner’s assistant Susan Strattner thought more people were out shopping due to Super Storm Sandy, which devastated many second home owners’ and tourists’ primary residences in New York and New Jersey.
"There was no snow and there were a lot more people shopping," said Strattner.
She also mentioned that this year was different because Thanksgiving was later in November and there was no extra week of shopping after that holiday.
Downtown Wilmington saw many shoppers over the weekend, especially with the local shopping campaign made through the Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce. (Chris Mays/Reformer)
Beadz Needs owner Veronica Abbott told the Reformer that overall sales were good for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday.
"It was about even for Friday and Saturday," she said. "This year, it was all about doing something small for presents."
Although last year’s numbers were a bit higher in terms of profit, Abbott sold more kits and pre-made products to inspire people to become hooked on making jewelry.
"It’s sort of a no-brainer for gift ideas," she said.
With Mount Snow and Stratton being opened for skiing and riding early, Abbott thought that helped with general foot traffic around town. She also believes people are trying to get away from consumerism.
"I think it’s the fact that it’s so shoved down our throats and people are looking hard at things," she said, citing Sandy and Tropical Storm Irene. "It makes you evaluate what’s really important."
The economy was another reason people might be a bit more frugal. That might make gift giving more personal at the same time, added Abbott.
Diane Chapman, an owner of Chapman’s In Town Antiques, said she had seen quite a bit of traffic on Main Street throughout the weekend.
Although her store specializes in deals and discounts, the place was filled with Santa Claus items. Dickens characters sat above a mantel in the back of the store.
"Whether it’s Black Friday or Green Friday, there’s always sales," her husband said.
On Saturday, the couple reported more sales than Friday.
"I notice a lot more traffic on Sunday afternoons as people are leaving the mountains," said Chapman. "The bulk of our clientele are second homeowners. There are some locals but more of the second homeowners are buying."
Artist Jim McGrath, whose gallery is listed on the local shopping campaign, sees more foot traffic during the holidays. Even though an art gallery is not part of the average retail shopping experience, people will take a look at the paintings and possibly purchase postcards or other items displaying the art work if they are walking by.
It also gives potential customers time to think. McGrath said he hands out quite a few business cards to people during this special weekend as well as the following weeks, where people are getting their shopping done for the holidays.
His yearly routine consists of putting art work up in the window that has a seasonal theme. Currently, he is working on painting an angel for Christmas.
The painting that is in the window now is called "An Unexpected Treasure." In it, the woman is pulling back her hair while pulling back brush to find one small trace of a blue flower.
"That piece is gratitude for the simple things," said McGrath.