Many local business owners share increased sales over holiday season
by: VERN UYETAKE Sarah Culp shops at Sofa Table Chair in West Linn with Maclain, 4, and Cecilia, 2.

How were sales in West Linn over the holidays? It depends on whom you talk to, but many local businesses saw an increase in sales this holiday season, matching national trends.

This year's national holiday sales topped 2010's by 4.7 percent, according to Shopper Trak, a retail and mall foot-traffic counting service.

Though not all West Linn businesses saw that kind of gain, many reported a successful holiday season.

One such shop is Dragonfly Greetings and Gifts, which saw an increase in sales from last year.

'I lot of people are just maybe financially doing better,' said owner Kris Olson, who noted selling a lot of snow globes, lit snowflakes and hostess gifts. She said holiday scented items, such as candles, were also popular.

'We saw customers making an effort to shop locally,' she said. 'That's our goal; to keep things in stock here so they don't have to go to the mall.'

The Dog Club of West Linn manager Andrea Brown also a 'definite improvement' in retail sales over last year, with a 5 percent jump.

Hit items at her place were lower priced dog toys.

'People are seeking better bargains these days,' she said.

Brown said her business tried teaming up with other local businesses this holiday season, not only to attract more customers, but also to raise funds for the nonprofit PONGO Fund.

'I think there's a general increase in awareness to shop locally,' she said.

The push of the Small business Saturday campaign, which was Nov. 26, also spurred momentum to shop in West Linn.

Ego Accessories owner Pam Pesetti said, 'I felt a real surge of local customers.' She added the store was much busier on that Saturday than last year.

Pesetti also mentioned that customers told her they were making an effort to shop locally, especially on Small Business Saturday.

Not everyone was buying though, some people were out eating, dining and drinking more this year.

Lavender Bleu, a gift shop and tea room, witnessed stagnant sales in the gift shop but an increase of patrons in the tearoom.

Co-owner Sue Rivelli said word about her shop is starting to spread and customers are returning to the tearoom and bringing friends.

'We had people mention they wanted to shop locally,' Rivelli said. 'We are always thankful when they think of us little guys.'

Market of Choice manager Gregg Kruse said the grocery store saw a big increase this year.

'Sales were great,' he said.

Though only entering his second year in business, Joel LaFollette, owner of Royal Treatment Fly Fishing, was happy with sales - though he credits his loyal customers for it.

Healthy habits were also on the minds of holiday shoppers. Portland Running Company saw a slight increase of around 2 percent in sales during a three-day sale in the beginning of December, according to manager Jerret Mantalas. He said reflectors, reflective gear and gift cards were popular items.

Some businesses reported average, but still solid, sales this year.

Hometown Sports co-owner Ray Pearson said, 'We did really well' although sales were about the same as 2010.

Amber Nurmi, owner of Healthy Pet, reported a slight downturn from last year.

'We did not see the traffic,' said Nurmi.

She said her loyal customers continued visit the store, but not many new faces. However, popular gifts from her shop were Skinneez - plush toys with no stuffing - dog chews and odor-eliminating candles.

The West Linn Chamber of Commerce hopes the recent trend to shop locally continues.

Chamber office manager Christina Romaniuk said, 'We're always encouraging people to shop local businesses. The whole purpose is to shop locally.'

Romaniuk admits shopping locally in West Linn can be challenging as it is a small community with a lot of home-based businesses.

On the Tidings Facebook page, resident Melissa Padgett said she didn't do much holiday shopping in West Linn except for her Christmas tree.

'I try to shop in town for birthday presents. I go to Lake Oswego for most gifts. West Linn is a suburb - stop beating yourself up for not being a larger retail center. That's just not West Linn,' Padgett wrote.

But Romaniuk hopes people will continue to support local business before heading out to the big box stores.

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