Holiday shoppers helped Barrington shops see black

Style Unleashed owner Karen Lynch said there wasn’t much inventory left over from the holiday season. The store’s stock has now switched over to more timely items, such as football jerseys for pets. Style Unleashed owner Karen Lynch said there wasn’t much inventory left over from the holiday season. The store’s stock has now switched over to more timely items, such as football jerseys for pets.

Style Unleashed owner Karen Lynch said there wasn’t much inventory left over from the holiday season. The store’s stock has now switched over to more timely items, such as football jerseys for pets.

Style Unleashed owner Karen Lynch said there wasn’t much inventory left over from the holiday season. The store’s stock has now switched over to more timely items, such as football jerseys for pets.

The holiday season starts early at Style Unleashed.

While many retailers track their holiday business from Black Friday through Christmas, the Waseca Avenue pet salon and boutique has seen a pre-Thanksgiving rush since it opened in 2011.

“They’ve got people coming over and their dogs are stinky, their dogs need haircuts. That’s when everybody’s family gets together,” said owner Karen Lynch, who smiled while talking about her shop’s overall business in late 2012.

It was a good stretch for Style Unleashed and a number of other businesses interviewed.

Beth Gresch, who owns Grasmere on Maple Avenue with her husband, Peter, said this year was better than last.

The lifestyle store, which sells everything from antiques to gifts from fair trade and independent designers, has now been in business for nearly 20 years.

Ms. Gresch said the shop has developed loyal customers over the last two decades but a big takeaway from this past holiday season was the number of new faces that walked through the door.

Ms. Gresch said the store used social media for some promotion but she attributed a lot of the trend to a heightened focus on shopping local.

“I think there was really just a big push in the community to shop locally and I think we as merchants felt that, which is great,” she said.

Holly Smith’s Hollies on the Avenue is a Maple Avenue neighbor to Grasmere. Ms. Smith said she also witnessed a spike in customers looking to support local businesses, many of whom had never stepped foot inside the store before.

“I think the big thing I got out of the holiday season was how many people were very conscious about shopping local,” Ms. Smith said.

Ms. Lynch said a few Barrington Business Association initiatives were a part of her season’s success. Ms. Smith said she would like to think efforts such as a coupon book/raffle known as the Passport to Savings helped matters.

Ms. Lynch also said events such as a “Yowliday Open House” helped her store. The second annual event invited dogs and their owners in for a night of festive fun with refreshments, discounts and a couple fund-raisers to benefit local animal shelters.

Those without animals even shopped at Style Unleashed. One couple, for example, needed gifts for the “granddogs.”

Ms. Lynch said one sign of the season was her inventory. She came back to work after Christmas to a much smaller stock of items than she had in November.

“I was ordering all week,” she said.

A couple of other local businesses saw a busy season offering customers what they want around holidays — food and drink.

Persimmon Provisions owner Champe Speidel said the holiday season is his business’s busy time.

“We did great,” he said, citing the success as a function of large holiday meals and customers’ growing familiarity with the business, which is now in its third year.

Mr. Speidel sad the most popular item was the rib roast while lamb, pork and veal weren’t far behind.

“We didn’t do any big promotional kick but it’s the holidays, people go all out,” he said.

Brickyard Wine and Spirits just missed the holiday season last year, opening on Dec. 30, 2011. Owner Giovanni Cicione said that makes it tough to compare the season, but the week before Thanksgiving had been the store’s busiest week ever.

Mr. Cicione said business quieted down a bit between Thanksgiving and Christmas though kosher selections did generate a pre-Hanukkah bump. The week of Christmas, Mr. Cicione said, surpassed the week before Thanksgiving as the store’s busiest to date.

“It was good,” Mr. Cicione said.

“The funny thing is, after a year we still have people walking in and saying ‘I didn’t know there was a liquor store in Barrington.’ That’s encouraging that there’s still people who haven’t found us.”

Peter Andrews, general manager for Grapes and Grains, a liquor store on Bosworth Street, said that store’s inaugural holiday season was also a good one.

“It was much better than we expected. … It was non-stop from right  before Thanksgiving to … it’s still going strong,” Mr. Andrews said.

“It’s been phenomenal.”

Mr. Andrews said Grapes and Grains’ craft beer selection brought customers from as far away as Coventry and Boston.

Matt Amaral, owner of Grapes and Grains, added that the store benefited from the expertise of its staff.

— With reports by Josh Bickford

 

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