The retail response to the holiday market is mixed; some see a great opportunity others still in the dark

Interviews with business owners in downtown Burlington in the run-up to the holiday market suggest that there are markedly different views and concerns about the impact the event will have on retailers across the country. downtown.

Many business owners seemed to be unaware of the details of the Dec 9-12 4-day vacation market or because they didn’t have time to keep track of things (they were too busy struggling to keep things up. open doors). or resulting from a lack of communication by the Burlington Downtown Business Association (BDBA).

The common response from business owners, whether enthusiastic or skeptical about the event, was that they hoped the event would prove to be successful as the difficult times they had fallen into during the pandemic remained. .

Many were optimistic that the market would increase traffic in the city center, others feared they would face direct competition.

Joelle Goddard-Cooling, owner of Joelle’s, said the activity prevents her from participating in the BDBA business. Joelle said she spoke to Brian Dean about the BDBA early in the process but chose to focus on her store.

“It would be difficult to participate, to go and transport something there would be a bit tricky,” said Joelle “but I hope it will attract more people downtown”.

Several business owners have mentioned that it is the retailer’s responsibility to set up kiosks in the marketplace.

Joëlle would have liked to be more involved in the discussions, but the traffic during the holiday season made it difficult. She suggested that if she wanted to know more about the market she might have and that there was no transparency issue on the part of the BDBA, but acknowledged that she should have spent some time qu ‘she didn’t have to participate if she wanted to participate.

“We always want the downtown core to thrive, I certainly spoke to Brian early on and felt…” Joelle paused, “Maybe I would have commented if I wasn’t in it. ‘OK, but I’m not sure whether I agree with the deal or not, so I have no comment.

Jason Pepetone, owner of Centro Garden, has found that he too has difficulty meeting existing demands, which explains the decline in participation in the vacation market.

Pepetone has been asked to be a supplier, but he has enough staff for day-to-day operations. “I guess that’s a good problem to have,” he said of the demand on his business. In addition to staff issues, Centro Garden faces supply delays.

“We don’t participate in the market. I heard songs. But we are dealing with shipments that arrive late. I’m in Toronto picking up stuff that needs to be delivered here. We face the same supply chain issues as everyone else, ”he said.

Pepetone was not concerned about potential competition and believed the vacation market by directing foot traffic could pay dividends in his operation.

“They did something similar years ago in the village square, it’s a good atmosphere. I could see it as a competition but it never hurt me.

Shirley, the owner of Knitter’s Boutique, felt moving into the holiday market would have been redundant, her storefront at 431 Pearl Street (it opened this week) will be right in the middle of the market. The Knitter’s store borders the 402-420 Martha St parking lot which is fully fenced and under construction, a project Shirley said the city assures her will be completed before the Dec. 9 market.

Shirley is anxiously awaiting the completion of the project to ease traffic outside of her location. One day she showed up to find a fence around her store, much to her relief the city quickly removed it.

“I noticed before they started construction that the trail (the Elgin Drive) was packed with people. I couldn’t believe the number of people walking! And there were like a billion dogs, so in an entrepreneurial spirit, Shirley immediately got down to knitting dog sweaters and put them out the window. Because it’s just amazing how many dogs there are.

“I can not wait to be there. I think it’s going to be huge for business and love the vibe of downtown Burlington. I think there is a lot of action here and this place is perfect for that. I told people about the market and they spread the word, it’s gonna be so cool because it’s outdoor, people can get together and shop without worrying about capacity limits.

Caitlin McGillivray, owner of Waves in the Village, only received a leaflet informing her of the market. Caitlin would have participated to some extent and feared the village square would be overlooked by the market. Caitlin said if someone came to ask BDBA, they could at least have contributed something for a gift bag, so if people left without registering at Waves in the Village, they would know they were there.

“I am afraid that we have a lot of people here and that they will not be redirected to the village because a lot of people do not know that the village exists. So I’m afraid they’ll cross the parking lot and then go to their car and leave. People should be redirected to this area to help some of the businesses that are there as well, ”McGillivray said.

Ali Ucar, owner of the Agora Marketplace, is participating in the holiday market and hopes it will give his business a much needed boost. The owner of the John Street gift shop opened during the pandemic and has been crippled in presenting his shop to the public by the frequent closings.

Ucar pays a fee of $ 50 to participate and is responsible for bringing their own tent and table. Ucar has tried marketing and social media and is not sure where to go he hopes the vacation market will spread the word.

The BDBA has a burden of responsibility for the market to infuse the downtown area with an influx of shoppers this holiday season. The event should benefit not only partner businesses, but all local downtown retailers who did not have the time, resources or information to participate.

The Downtown Burlington website says the market aims to revitalize downtown just in time for the holiday season. Hopefully this goal comes to fruition lest the BDBA get a few lumps of coal from its customers this holiday season.

The Burlington Holiday Market is run with support from Sound of Music and will feature choirs, interactive community art, and advent-style community exhibits.

The event will start on Thursday December 9 from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., will take place from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday.

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