Off to a strong start

A strong start to the holiday shopping season is making spirits bright at the Crossroads Mall. But, it sounds as if merchants may be dreaming of a white Christmas.

The Thursday evening kickoff for Black Friday, coupled with cold weather, has helped to spike early sales, according to mall merchants and Crossroads’ marketing director, Melissa Verschoor.

“The holiday is off to a great start,” she said. “Thursday night was really good,” she said, “Friday morning was a little slow, but in the afternoon it picked up a lot.”

She said that the current bout of cold weather helps get people into a shopping mood.

“It seems like when the weather gets cold, it starts feeling like the holidays,” Verschoor said.

Sears Store Manager Lindsay Hoeppner, said that the cold weather does indeed help, but that one more ingredient is needed – snow.

She said she sees business pick up “once the snow hits,” but even without snowy drifts, it’s been good so far.

“December has gone off real well,” she said.

Hoeppner said Sears is on track to meet last year’s sales numbers, which were up 20 percent from the previous season.

Some of the items that are moving well during the season include tools and televisions.

“TV’s are still a big hit,” she said.

Another popular item, Hoeppner said, are sound bars, which are long speakers for TV sets.

“People are using them as stocking stuffers,” she said.

JC Penney Store Leader James Plyley is happy with their holiday season as well.

“It’s off to a really good start,” he said.

Some of the items that holiday shoppers are looking for, Plyley said, include fine jewelry and practical items.

Home goods are selling really well toom he said, as are riding-style boots, fleece clothing and outerwear.

Plyley said he too finds that cold temperatures, especially combined with a little snow, helps sales and puts customers in the holiday spirit.

How much is just right?

“Just enough to cover the ground,” he said.

He also expects to see a lot of shoppers late in the season, including men shopping for their spouses at the last minute.

“They will ask for help instantly,” he said, “You will see them in the jewelry department.”

Nathan Dencklau, manager of the Riddle’s Jewelry, is also pleased with the shopping season thus far.

“December is going really well,” he said, “We’re up from last year.”

He said that Pandora bracelets, which let the owner adds charms to them, are a popular holiday item. In addition, the line of twinkling diamonds is also selling well.

He also said that a little bit of snow helps bring in business and put his customers in the holiday mood early in the season.

However, Christmas gets closer, the weather matters less.

“Nothing stops them the last few weeks,” he said.

To help this season’s shoppers, the Crossroads Mall will begin its extended holiday hours on Monday. In addition, there are several upcoming events including the Badger Lions Club coloring book sale on Dec. 14 and 21, a craft show today and of course, Santa.

While Verschoor said she often visits with Santa, she has yet to hand over her list – although she does plan on it.

In the meantime, she will be checking out some of the merchants in the mall to shop for those on her list and offers the season’s shoppers an invitation.

“We invite them to look in a store they might not have been in before,” she said, “You never know what you might find.”