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Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York
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Local merchants pleased with 2012 holiday shopping season

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MASSENA - The 2012 holiday shopping season was a good one, according to local merchants, who say this year’s sales were the best they’ve seen in recent years.

“Our business was excellent,” said Jackie Sheehan, who together with her husband, Phil owns and operates Phil & Jackie’s on Main Street in the village.

“It was up from last year. People were helping to support the local businesses and most of the time the shopping weather was really good, so that made it easier,” she said.

When asked if she thought this year’s holiday sales were a sign of a recovering economy, Mrs. Sheehan said she didn’t think that was the case.

“I don’t think the economy is getting better. I think it’s because we try to stay in a medium to low price range and offer services like gift wrapping. We also had a lot of in-house orders like ornaments, mugs and shirts,” she said. “We also try to carry Made In The USA products.”

Mr. Sheehan said he thinks it’s those unique gifts that you’re not going to find anywhere else that really drives their business.

“Personalization keeps us going,” he said, adding that more and more people are finding them as they enter year four at their new location.

“After three-and-a-half years, people are realizing we’re here,” he said.

Shannon Peets-Hendricks, who co-owns Peets Jewelers with several other members of her family, said their holiday season was also a good one.

“This was one of the busier seasons we’ve had in the last couple of years,” she said. “Sales were definitely up.”

While Ms. Peets-Hendricks said she expected things to be busier this year, she acknowledged you never can tell until Christmas has come and gone what exactly the season has in store.

“The last couple of years have been getting better, so we were expecting to be a little busier and this was the busiest season we’ve had in a while,” she said. “You never know from year to year. Some people are starting to spend more and others are making more of an effort to shop local.”

Three merchants that have recently opened their doors at St. Lawrence Centre were also pleased with their sales.

While Memory Lane isn’t exactly a new business, this year was its first holiday season without long-time owner Karen Osaway, who sold the business to Peggy Cruz before passing away in 2012.

“Karen and God blessed me,” Ms. Cruz said. “My holiday season was fantastic.”

Ms. Cruz, who had a booth in the shop and worked there prior to buying the business, said this year the store held a holiday sale and, while she’s not certain that’s the reason things went so well, she says it likely didn’t hurt either.

“We did a sale this year, which was out of the norm,” she said. “I’m not sure if that’s why we did so well or not. I think people would have still shopped.”

One thing Ms. Cruz said she did notice was the types of purchases people were making.

“Furniture was a mover,” she said, adding in the past the store didn’t sell a lot of furniture.

Ms. Cruz also said she saw a lot of new faces this year.

“A lot of people who have never been in before came in,” she said, adding often times they would return with their friends who had never been in the store before either.

“Having first time customers have a good experience and bring back friends was good for us,” she said.

One of the mall’s newest tenants, although a seasonal one, was Twisted Turtle.

Owner Jessika Furnace said their location at the mall was so busy they actually had to close their original Potsdam location.

“The mall was extremely busy. It was busy enough for us to actually have to close the Potsdam store and take inventory from there to the mall,” she said. “It got very, very busy about three weeks before Christmas, and I couldn’t get any more orders in.”

While the Twisted Turtle’s St. Lawrence Centre location was a seasonal one, Ms. Furnace said she thinks her time in the mall was well spent.

“I think we got a lot of new customers for our Potsdam location,” she said, adding she’s looking forward to returning to the mall for the 2013 holiday shopping season.

“As long as they’ll have us, I’ll be there,” she said.

Ms. Furnace also acknowledged this year was a learning experience and next year she’s looking forward to a great holiday season at both locations.

“It was our first year in the mall, and it was definitely a learning experience,” she said. “Next year we’ll have enough inventory to have both stores open during the holiday season.”

This year also marked the first holiday season at St. Lawrence Centre for The Mustard Tin, and the store’s owner, Linda Dalton, says things went well.

“This is my first year in the mall, so I can’t really compare it to anything, but I did well. I’m happy with what I did,” she said.

Given it was their first year in the mall, Ms. Dalton said many shoppers were visiting her store for the first time.

“I’m new here, so a lot of people discovered me,” she said. “They were asking me if I just here for the holidays and I told them, ‘No, I’m here all the time.’”

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