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Holiday season sales off just a bit in 2014

It appears holiday sales in Kenmare are off a bit from 2014, according to several of the local merchants.

1/06/15 (Tue)

Downtown shopping... A customer leaves Kenmare Drug in the Downtown Square on Friday. Retail sales in Kenmare during the Christmas season appear to have tapered off a bit from a year ago, according to merchants around town who worked their stores during the holiday season. 

By Marvin Baker

It appears holiday sales in Kenmare are off a bit from 2014, according to several of the local merchants.

Sales receipts aren’t all tabulated yet, but for those who know their businesses well, traffic wasn’t as brisk as it was one year ago.

As an example, Amy Harris of Northern Appliances said sales actually dropped off in December from previous months, but in her business, that’s to be expected.

“It was kind of a slow month,” Harris said. “I don’t really know the reason. We’ve been in business a year and it seems to be a slower month. Chalk it up to Christmas money being spent on gifts and not appliances.”

According to Harris, most households go into the Christmas season not looking to change or upgrade appliances. They don’t want major disruptions in their kitchens with extra people staying for the holidays.

Leading up to the Christmas season, however, was quite different at Northern Appliances.

“Yes, December was a little slow, but we had a great fourth quarter in 2014,” Harris said. “We had a really big month in October.”

Harris added the appliance store across the street from M & K Pizza Hub at 710 Park Ave., caters to a retail region far beyond Kenmare, which may have helped boost sales in October and November.

She said the store has had sales from Minot, Sherwood, Mohall, Bowbells and Lignite, in addition to Kenmare.

“Some people will go to Minot to get bigger savings,” Harris said. “Bring the numbers to us and we can work with our distributors. We’re pretty competitive from start to finish. And customer service is paramount. We sometimes go out at 8 or 9 at night on a service call. That customer service can make or break you as a new business.”

Harris added she understands when people want to shop around and it doesn’t hurt to get an estimate. But she wants shoppers to at least give Northern Appliances a look.

“The frustrating part is not having the opportunity to work with customers,” Harris said. “Remember the customer service.”

Regardless, Harris described 2014 as “a really good year for us.” And aside from Christmas, she expects additional customers in January and February since people wait until after the holidays to make purchases of larger ticket items.

Meanwhile, her husband Shane, who operates Modern Woodworks, has orders for cabinets almost a year out, she said.

Weather can make a big difference

Penny Sigloh said past Christmas seasons have been better for sales of men’s, women’s and children’s clothing.

“There wasn’t as much last-minute stuff,” Sigloh said. “Shoppers were pretty well prepared this year.”

She said the Light Up the Night on Nov. 28 was a disappointment for her two stores because generally it is usually a big day for One Stop. Sigloh said unseasonable cold was most likely the culprit.

“I think this season had a lot to do with weather,” Sigloh said. “It was a good season, we just didn’t see the foot traffic as we did last year.”

On the other hand, an embroidery service has never done better, according to Sigloh.

“Our embroidery orders have been better than they have ever been,” she said. “But as far as gifts, it was better a year ago.”

Both grocery stores in Kenmare had a robust December, but the proprietors said they expect December to be a big month in grocery because of holiday meals.

“It was a really good Christmas season,” said Gartner’s Jack & Jill owner Arlen Gartner. “I can’t complain. Business has been good.”

He said his Christmas sales were basically a continuation of the Thanksgiving season.

“There’s so many different parties because Christmas is split up for so many families,” Gartner said. “From then on (Thanksgiving), we’re running.”

Likewise, DuWayne Gilseth is pleased with holiday season sales at Kenmare Super Valu.

“We had a big rush. It didn’t seem to happen until the last two days before Christmas,” he said. “I’m happy with it.”

Gilseth said any merchant believes it can always be better, but he is content. He said grocery sales are generally good at Christmas, but inclement weather can produce better sales revenue than a holiday.

“It would have been nice to have a snowstorm to keep people from going down the road,” Gilseth said. “That always seems to keep people close, but I guess we can’t control Mother Nature.”

Kim Essler of Kenmare Drug hasn’t analyzed his sales records yet, but can at least say that he was pleased with the amount of traffic through the store during the holiday season.

He added, however, that staying open late on Dec. 16 while the Holiday Train was in town, was a disappointment as the store had very little traffic that night.

Farmers Union Oil Co. manager Don Boos, said sales at the hardware store really don’t fluctuate at Christmas. Since the store is almost exclusive for agriculture, sales are based on the needs of area farmers and ranchers instead of holiday shoppers...  Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!