Merchants give glowing report
From the glowing reports, the 2018 holiday shopping season had everything local merchants had hoped for — from Black Friday through the after-Christmas sales.
Recalling the after-Thanksgiving sales, Steve Moore, the manager of Bi-Mart, said that sales were up about 20 percent. "We were super busy; we had a lot of foot traffic. We opened at 5 a.m. and I think we had about 45 people waiting."
Since then, he estimated that with the steady sales, business has been up about 7 percent. "We had a good after-Christmas sale," he said. "I can't say enough about our local members that come and shop. We appreciate them coming in."
"It's been a great year," said Moore, who is optimistic that the New Year will bring increased sales. "We're trending that way, which is great."
At the Outpost, on Southwest Fifth Street, co-owner Christy Abbe said that the season has been busy, as usual. "We had our toy sale that we have every year, and gloves, hats and winter items," she said. "The next couple weeks, we'll have the Christmas items 50 percent off for those people who are preparing for next year."
"It was a good season; it's fun to see the customers," said Abbe, who expects a strong 2019, barring unforeseen issues with suppliers, strikes and truck driver shortages. "I feel pretty positive, but we're having some supplier increases. That's always a challenge."
In the downtown Madras area on Southwest Fifth Street, the White Buffalo Boutique and the neighboring Reynoso's Jewelry both had good seasons.
"We had a great sale for Black Friday," said White Buffalo Boutique owner Angie Ludi. "That was wonderful; we had a lot of people from all over Central Oregon – Bend, Redmond, Sisters. It was busy the entire day. This year, it blew it out of the water."
"We did a lot of fun, unique sales," said Ludi. "Christmas went really well for us. I stocked my store a lot beforehand for Christmas. We did a lot of preholiday sales and have had a few parties in the evening, and those went really well, too. They were fun events."
"We're so thankful for our community," she added. "It's a wonderful community that's very supportive."
The Reynosos' after-Thanksgiving sales were lackluster, but that changed in December. "I really don't do very good after Thanksgiving," said owner Blanca Reynoso. "I think everybody just leaves town; they don't stay local."
"Usually it picks up a lot about the 10th of December," she said, noting that since then, sales have been great. "We seem to do very good before Christmas."
Judy Solso, who stocks the gift shop at Hometown Drug, said she started buying for the holidays in April, in order to have the merchandise in September and October.
"I would say I had more Christmas things to set out," she said.
This year, there was a new corner with locally labeled clothing from Trend Letters, the business owned by Madras High School graduate Carly (Lofting) Hendricks.
"We had Madras Spirit Corner stuff from Trend Letters that we got in the latter part of July," said Solso, adding that the corner features T-shirts, hats and sweatshirts with Madras and Culver logos. "We're going to expand on that for spring. We wanted something that's like souvenir stuff for when people are in town."
Since Christmas, she said, she has consolidated and marked down seasonal merchandise. "I think it was a good year."