Merchants in the St. Johnsbury and Lyndonville area report holiday shoppers were upbeat and spending money as they hit area stores beginning Black Friday and continuing through the Thanksgiving weekend.
Saturday afternoon, every employee at Village Sport Shop in Lyndonville was busy waiting on customers with more customers browsing the store. Taking a quick break, Carrie Tomczyk, co-owner, said "everybody was running all day" on Friday and the weekend has been "really busy." She said the "shop local" movement has been good for her store and the coming year "looks promising." Coming on explosive growth in bike trails in the Kingdom and recent news Bill Stenger has purchased Burke Mountain, Village Sport Shop's well-established four season sporting goods business is well-positioned.
At the Lyndonville Chamber of Commerce sponsored shop on Depot Street in Lyndonville, the 30 or so local vendors displaying their wares at the shop "have done very well," said volunteer Pat Coutu, who was overseeing the shop Sunday. She said homemade candies and truffles have had fantastic sales while baked goods have also been extremely popular. She said the "buy local" sentiment has been much appreciated by the local exhibitors. Coutu explained the local displays are updated constantly and most are happy to make special orders in time for Christmas.
In the Green Mountain Mall, Toby Harter, the manager of Radio Shack said he is optimistic the store will see a strong year. Harter said the store "did a lot of everything" on Black Friday and the customers were still filling the store Saturday afternoon. He described Friday as "a good, solid day" and said Radio Shack has "become a wireless company" which means the store has expanded to sell everything connected with phones, tablets and e-readers. With eight employees, "we were able to take care of most people" and successfully utilized a program called "Direct Ship to You" that ships products free of charge in plenty of time for Christmas.
Randy Parrish, a manager at JC Penney, said the store heavily promoted a 6 a.m. special on cookware, with all varieties of cookware on sale for eight dollars as a Black Friday opening special. Crowds of shoppers hit the front doors right at 6 a.m. and cleaned out every last piece of advertised kitchenware 15 minutes after the store opened. He said JC Penney is only closed three days a year; Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas and he is not sure how long the store can remain closed on those three days. In fact, he worried the 6 a.m. opening might have been a bit late, given the decision by some stores to open at 4 a.m. He described the weekend as "busy from the get-go" and said every store employee was scheduled to work Friday.
At Frogs and Lily Pads on Railroad Street in St. Johnsbury, store manager Roni Grenier said the special "Green Saturday" merchants coordinated in St. Johnsbury the Saturday before Thanksgiving "was a really good day" for the store, with over 100 people making purchases at the store that day. Black Friday was strong as well, Grenier said, with "a lot of foot traffic." Grenier said the local store also appreciates the support of everyone who shops locally.