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Small Fremont Retailers Brace for Holidays

Patricia Murphy
11/26/2001

The holiday-shopping season is officially open, but the September 11th terrorist attacks combined with a slowing economy has many retailers anticipating a weak season. In the first of a three part series on holiday shopping KUOW’s Patricia Murphy introduces us to two small retail businesses she’ll be following this holiday season on Stone Way in Seattle’s Freemont neighborhood.

ON THE DAY AFTER THANKSGIVING MOST LARGE RETAILERS CHOSE TO START AGGRESSIVELY OFFERING EXPANDED HOURS AND EARLY BIRD SPECIALS IN HOPES OF GETTING CONSUMERS BACK IN THE BUYING MOOD. BUT FOR MOST SMALLER RETAIL SHOPS, LONG HOURS ARE OFTEN PART OF THE EQUATION AND THIS HOLIDAY SEASON WILL HAVE TO BE WEATHERED JUST LIKE THE LAST ONE WITHOUT GIMMICKY SALES. (Ambient outside) OUTSIDE THE GASWORKS PARK KITE SHOP BRIGHTLY COLORED FLAGS, KITES AND WINDSOCKS CATCH THE EYES OF POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS. (Door open) INSIDE IS JAM PACKED WITH MUCH MORE OF THE SAME, KITES OF EVERY STYLE AND HANGING FROM EVERY AVAILABLE SPACE, THE REST OF THE STORE IS FILLED WITH BUBBLE SHOOTERS, SIDEWALK CHALK, AND FRISBEES. THIS STORE IS ALL ABOUT FUN. CATHY GOODWIND OPENED THE SHOP IN 1979 AND RECENTLY RELOCATED TO STONE WAY SHE SAYS, THE HOLIDAY ARE ALWAYS A LITTLE UNNERVING. “Every year I feel anxious about going into the holidays because this my springboard time for the New Year. We do in one month what we do in three months maybe in the year for Christmas time. Last year it was down a little bit and I that was recession. This year I think that it’s going to be pretty even or a little bit under simply because of 9/11 and because there is a recession.” GOODWIND IS TRYING TO STAY POSITIVE, SHE’S CONFIDENT THE STORES NEW LOCATION WILL HELP BUSINESS AND THE FAIRLY STEADY STREAM OF CUSTOMERS VISITING THIS DAY SEEMS TO CONFIRM HER OPTIMISM, Sound GOODWIND SAYS HER REAL HOLIDAY TRAFFIC DOESN’T USUALLY BEGIN UNTIL THE SEASON IS IN FULL SWING. “I’d have to say that this day is not that big of a day for us. It’s probably a pretty normal day simply because the first place people go the day after Thanksgiving is either downtown or to a mall. It’s after they get tired of the same-ol’-same-ol’ that they’ll start looking for something different.” (Ambient street) ACROSS THE STREET AT THE GYPSY TRADER CONSIGNMENT SHOP BUSINESS SEEMS STEADY AS WELL. OWNER PAULA BAKER AND HER HUSBAND DEAL IN WOMAN’S CLOTHING AND ACCESSORIES, BUT AS THE SHOP NAME INDICATES THEY ALSO OFFER A VAST ARRAY OF NEW AND USED ITEMS ON CONSIGNMENT INCLUDING COUCHES, EXOTIC RUGS, JEWELRY AND ASSORTED KNICK KNACKS. THIS SHOP HAS RECENTLY RELOCATED TO STONE WAY FROM WALLINGFORD. BAKER SAYS THAT THE SEPTEMBER 11TH ATTACKS HAVE CHANGED THE WAY HER CUSTOMERS FEEL ABOUT SHOPPING. “Right after September the 11, business fell off drastically. I had people come in but they said that they weren’t in the mood to shop. They just wanted a diversion so they’d just look around. I believe that people buy for reasons now, your impulse shopping is a lot less. Since then, though, it seems to be steadily building up and I still feel that it will turn around.” BAKER’S NEW LOCATION IS THREE TIMES AS LARGE AS HER LAST AND MORE SQUARE FOOTAGE TRANSLATES INTO MORE RENT. IN A WEAKENING ECONOMY BAKER’S WILLING TO CONCEDE THE MOVE TOOK A LEAP OF FAITH. “There’s a lot of faith involved believe me. In the light when a lot of things are closing up we are expanding. We’re brave and we are just going to go for it.” BOTH BAKER AND GOODWIND WILL GET THROUGH THE HOLIDAY SEASON WITHOUT EXTRA HELP AND BOTH SAY THEY’LL BE ABLE BETTER JUDGE THEIR HOLIDAY SALES SHOWING BY MID DECEMBER. PATRICIA MURPHY FOR KUOW 94.9 PUBLIC RADIO.
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