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Local small businesses optimistic for this year’s sales numbers

Bryanna Hovestol sorts chocolate at Chocolates Plus on Nov. 21. Janel Hart, who owns the store in downtown Bemidji, is one of many retailers expecting positive sales numbers during the coming holiday shopping season. Zach Kayser | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI— Local business owners have some extra holiday cheer about this year’s annual bump in sales.

Steve Patterson is the most recent member of his family to own Patterson’s, a clothing store in Bemidji since 1930. He said based on sales so far, the holiday season is looking good.

“I wouldn’t pick an amount, but I think it’ll be better than the last couple of years,” he said. “We had a very good year last year, but do I expect this year to be even better.”

Sweaters and outerwear get the most attention from customers during the holidays, he said.

Janel Hart, owner of Chocolates Plus, said sales this year also will be intensified by the fact there’s one fewer shopping week between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Boxes of assorted candies usually sell particularly well during the season, she said.

“We’re thinking it’s going to be a good year,” Hart said.

Kelsey’s Jewelry co-owner Pamela Kelsey mentioned the shorter season as a factor, too, but added economic uncertainty because of the federal government shutdown earlier this year may also play a role.

“I think it’s probably going to end up being about even with last year,” she said.

About 18 to 20 percent of their sales during the holidays come from engagement rings and related jewelry as couples take advantage of the season of love, Kelsey said.

The jewelry lines made by her husband, Michael, and his workshop do well during the holidays, as well as branded lines and custom work, she said.

McKenzie Place gift store owner Gary Binkert has a rosier view of the economy, saying it would help him have higher sales than last year.

“People feel a little more comfortable about spending money,” he said.

Binkert said the kitchen gadgets and accessories area his store had recently added would do well during the upcoming season.

Mike Fogelson, co-owner of snowmobiling accessories outfitter Up North Sports, said that since the majority of Up North’s sales are done online they have high hopes for “Cyber Monday,” an offshoot of Black Friday where online retailers have special deals.

“Our expectations are good for Black Friday, but really high for Cyber Monday,” he said.

Since they cater to a winter sport, their peak sales season lines up with the holiday retail bump, he said.

“Both of them together creates a lot of activity,” he said. “We sell a ton of jackets, helmets, goggles...”

It’s not just retailers that are excited for the holiday season. Tutto Bene co-owner Jerusa Ricke said the Italian-themed restaurant got a boost last year from private party reservations and gift card sales, and hopes for more of the same in 2013.

“We’re hoping it’ll be just as good as last year,” she said.

Zach Kayser
Zach Kayser covers local government and city issues for the Pioneer. He previously worked for the Wadena Pioneer Journal, and is an alumni of the University of Minnesota, Morris. 
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