Santa's mixed bag

Christmas brings good and bad tidings for county merchants

POLK COUNTY -- The Holiday Shopping Season, it seems, was a rather hit or miss affair with area merchants.

Some did better than in the past and some did worse. Others noticed no change at all.

"It was very quiet," said Billie Kay Herrell, co-owner of Taylor's in Independence. "We didn't have as many people come in the doors as we used to. The only thing I can think of is that people went to Salem and the malls. People are buying electronic things, big things. I think an awful lot of people are kind of like sheep. They see what's advertised and that's what they go for.

"I think people are being a little more careful these days, too. We were more careful ordering things this year. We didn't overstock."

On the other side of Highway 99W, things went far better at the Sunflower Barn in Monmouth.

"It went good," said co-owner Laurice Riddell. "We were up about 40 percent from our sales last year. It's extremely important for us. It's 75 percent of my business, Christmas gifts.

"Christmas for us kind of starts in the summer. Christmas is almost shopped year round. I put my Christmas stuff out in the summer and it really gets going Thanksgiving weekend. Then the real push comes at the end of November and December."

The most popular items at the Dallas Radio Shack were remote control cars, home theater systems and televisions.

"It wasn't as busy as we'd like it to be, but we did quite good," manager Pam Petit said. "It wasn't slower than previous years. That's for sure. I would say it's a big part of our business. We stay pretty steady all year long, but we do expect to do well at Christmas. The day after Christmas was our biggest day of the year as far as customers coming in."

Just about every business counts on additional revenue during the holidays. But some count on it more than others.

"Christmas is quite important for us to get through the winter," Herrell said. "The soda fountain carries us through the summer, ice cream and stuff like that. Tourism helps in the summer. In the winter, you don't depend on tourism. You depend on selling things to get through to the spring. It makes it very hard.

"We've been here so many years (since 1945) -- we're just thankful we own the building and everything. We still have taxes and insurance and maintenance and all that. But we're established and we're fortunate in that sense."


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