Holiday sales are booming in Edmonds

By Laura Daniali | Dec 17, 2015
Courtesy of: City of Edmonds Edmonds City Council President Adrienne Fraley-Monillas shops at the inaugural Edmonds Holiday Farmers Market on a recent Saturday. The market will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19, in the parking lot between City Hall and the Rusty Pelican on 5th Avenue North.

With only eight days until Christmas, Edmonds shop owners are optimistic that shoppers will find the perfect gifts in local stores, and holiday sales will remain strong.

“November was not very good,” Manya Vee, owner of MaJe Gallery said, “but December started with a bang.”

Vee’s shop on Main Street features women’s clothing, jewelry and gifts, and has been open for 15 years.

The biggest rush for sales consistently happen in the last seven to 10 days before Christmas, she said, and a busy day would be about 20 to 40 individual sales.

One misconception she would like to clear up is that shopping in a boutique can be expensive.

“You might think in a small specialty shop everything is expensive, but that is not the case,” Vee said. “We have a bunch of stuff for under $25 – handmade artisan items.”

In independently-owned shops, she said, owners take the time to select items carefully and offer a unique collection.

Meg Rankin, owner of J. Rankin Jewelers on the corner of 5th Avenue South and Walnut Street said holiday sales have been “great,” and they are looking to stay busy right up to Christmas.

“Closer to the holiday, frankly, there are a lot more men walking in to purchase what we have on hand,” she said, and they are prepared with diamond pendants, diamond and sapphire rings and earrings, and even engagement rings for last minute shoppers.

Vee and Rankin both said there is a level of customer service that is offered when people choose to shop locally at independently-owned stores.

“It’s so much more of a pleasant experience,” Rankin said. “There’s better customer service and one-on-one attention.”

She emphasized that when you shop local, the money stays local, too.

“When you shop at a mom and pop store, you’re keeping the money local,” she said. “You’re buying from people who are giving their time, energy and money back into the community where they live.”

Rankin and her husband, John, have been in the jewelry business since 1988, and moved their store from Seattle to Edmonds eight years ago.

“We decided to bring our store home to where we live,” Rankin said.

Vee said keeping money within the community, in her opinion, is what helped Edmonds survive the recession.

Edmonds is charming, she said, but there’s more to it than that.

“It’s a very symbiotic relationship between the customers and the business owners here,” Vee said.

Pat McKee, owner of Nama’s Candy Store on 5th Avenue North, said when you shop in Edmonds, you’re supporting “some really cool local people.”

“We have an awesome town with fabulous businesses in Edmonds,” he said, “and we personally will support and buy everything we possibly can within the Edmonds border, and we encourage everyone to do that.”

For McKee, his holiday sales boom around Valentine’s Day, as expected, and the entire month of December and Easter are equal in terms of sales.

This year, McKee’s sales of Belgian chocolates and more expensive higher-end chocolates are topping his sales charts.

“They’re buying a lot more specialty and imported chocolate than they have in the past,” he said. “It’s a sign that things are going very well.”

Vee and McKee also give credit to the City of Edmonds for hosting downtown holiday events to draw in locals and non-locals.

“The events on the Saturday after Thanksgiving kicked off the holidays really well for the town,” McKee said.

The Edmonds Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual Tree Lighting Ceremony on Nov. 28, which drew thousands to downtown, and the city launched its inaugural Holiday Farmers Market, which ran Saturdays from Nov. 21 through this coming Saturday, Dec. 19.

Economic Development Director Patrick Doherty said he met with downtown merchants last year to “get the ball rolling on enhancing the downtown Edmonds holiday experience.”

In 2014, the city, along with other business organizations, set out to provide a holiday experience in Edmonds with a holiday trolley, free holiday movies at the Edmonds Theater, carolers and other downtown draws.

It continued with those this year and added the Holiday Farmers Market, which Doherty said goes along with the city’s plan to look into a year-round farmers market.

“As a further step towards enhancing the downtown holiday experience this year,” he said, “I decided to start up the holiday market.

“It’s essentially a pilot also for the concept of a year-round farmers market or simply for a continuing holiday market.”

At its peak, there were about 20 vendors, offering produce, meat, smoked fish, flowers and wreaths, pasta, desserts, candy, jams/preserves, knives/knife-sharpening, granola, pet accessories, chai tea, kettle-corn and jewelry.

Doherty said the turnout was split 50/50 due to weather – some sunny Saturdays and some rainy. The city is also looking ahead to what improvements can be made next year.

“So far, we believe the market needs to be bigger and have more offerings to capture the interest of the public,” he said.

The vendors will be provided with a survey after this Saturday’s market, and the city also will look into possibly holding it on Sunday and finding a more “weather-protected” location.

“Interestingly, one of the most popular and successful year-round farmers markets is in Old Ballard, where it is located on Ballard Avenue out in the weather – rain or shine,” Doherty said. “So, perhaps it’s more about how comprehensive the market experience is, what’s on offer, etc.”

The overarching holiday vibe – from merchants to city officials – let’s get shoppers to spend his or her money in Edmonds. So far, it looks as if they are doing just that.

“Those folks outside Edmonds who come to town to visit and shop bring their outside dollars to our economy and create new economic activity,” Doherty said. “Those local Edmonds folks who stay in Edmonds to shop are keeping their dollars in town, as opposed to ‘exporting’ their money, and thus are helping nurture the local economy and maintain economic activity.”










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