By Sarah Radmer
The holiday retail season is over. For some Queen Anne and Magnolia business owners, it was a record-breaking year; others felt the pain of the short season and struggling economy.
Courean Napolitano, owner of Vixen Day Spa (3209 W. McGraw St.), said the holiday season got really intense during the week surrounding Christmas. Thanksgiving was late, and people seemed to wait, she said.
Vixen had an “incredible summer,” but when fall came and the government shut down, so did sales.
“It just went flat,” she said.
This Christmas was down, percentage-wise, compared to years before, until that final rush at the end, she said. Her other friends in retail experienced the same lackluster season, and one friend suspected online shopping was to blame.
“It was just kind of the perfect storm between the government shutdown, online shopping and Thanksgiving being late,” she said.
The change forces business owners to be more savvy, she said. Vixen has a strong customer base and loyal neighborhood clientele. It doesn’t get a lot of business from outside the neighborhood, though, she said.
This year, Magnolia had two different Christmas events. This watered down the festivities and created confusion, Napolitano said.
“I wanted to cry,” she said. “You have no idea how hard I work on events in Magnolia. I felt completely undermined.”
This was only Phillip Kochik’s second Christmas as owner of the Seven Hills Running Shop (3139 W. Government Way). This Christmas, he was busier than he expected, saying it was probably the store’s busiest month of the year.
There’s a shop-local mentality in Magnolia that helps, Kochik said. Since he’s outside of the village, Kochik doesn’t get as much of that village business. He’s trying to make his shop a destination store for running equipment. The store pulls customers from all over Seattle and outlying cities.
“Magnolia is a great neighborhood,” he said. “I’m glad we’re here and glad we’re going strong.”
In Queen Anne
Chocopolis in Queen Anne (1527 Queen Anne Ave. N.) had a record year, according to chief chocophile Lauren Adler.
Chocopolis opened in July 2008, right when the economy went south. “This year, it was nice,” she said. Adler attributes the successful holiday season to a better economy and being a more established business.
The store’s drinking chocolate was a big hit with shoppers this year, as well as the old favorites like truffles and chocolate bars. People in Queen Anne seem to be shopping as much or more in local retailers, Adler said: “Seattle seems to have a pretty strong local following.”
She heard good things from other retailers, too, like her neighbor Four Winds, whose holiday season was “going gangbusters,” she said.
Matt Fioretti, owner of Four Winds (1521 Queen Anne Ave. N.) agreed his holiday season was good and definitely up from last year. The economy is coming back, and the store is consistent.
“This is our 19th year on the hill,” he said. “I think it’s customer service — we’re consistent with that.”
Fioretti said it seemed like people started their shopping season earlier and went after the big sales in November.
Queen Anne’s annual Holiday Magic event is always fun, and it’s great to raise awareness for what’s on the hill, he said. This year, the holiday kickoff event coincided with a bitter cold snap, so there were fewer people, but it also brought new customers, too, Adler said.
Queen Anne Chamber of Commerce executive director Charley Shore said, despite the cold, it was a nice event that kicked off the season. People supported their local businesses.
The demographic in upper Queen Anne is a little older, Shore said, and they tend to shop local even more.
This year, the chamber turned to the community and asked for donations for the tree lights in Queen Anne. Some businesses couldn’t support the $200 price tag per tree. Despite some community support, the chamber is still $3,00 short, Shore said.
Shore is trying to come up with ideas to prevent the same situation from happening next year, like giving families the opportunity to sponsor and put their name on a tree.
For the 2014 holiday season, Shore is also kicking around the idea of having a community Christmas tree, from the Queen Anne Helpline’s lot, that could be turned on before or during Holiday Magic.
“It would be such a fun time,” she said, “and make it feel like such an intimate community.”
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