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Local businesses expect big holiday spending season
black friday pic
Amy Rodrigues and her husband John inspect a heavy-duty thermos inside Main Street Antiques at the corner of Golden State Boulevard and Main Street in downtown Turlock. Unique treasures and trinkets like the thermos help small businesses compete with big box stores during the holiday shopping season. - photo by JONATHAN MCCORKELL / The Journal

Small business owners in downtown Turlock admit they can’t beat big box and chain stores when it comes to Black Friday super sales — but they can compete over the course of the holiday shopping season.  

The exploding niche markets of unique, hand-crafted and second-hand goods are helping small businesses in Turlock not only survive but thrive over the busiest shopping month of the year; which begins this Friday.

Kim Jonson, co-owner of Vintage Market on Main Street, said the business model for small stores has changed — and it is thriving.

“We are a co-op so we rent out space to people who hand-craft items and want to sell them. Word has gotten out and so far we are doing great this year, and in this economy this is the way to go,” she said. “We’ve found a niche that makes us successful; people appreciate vintage and hand-crafted things, there is something for everyone.”

Next door to Vintage Market at Main Street Antiques sales have been steady. Managers Jennifer Jensen and Lori Smith said downtown events spark business for the holidays.

“Our busiest night of the year is always the night of the Christmas tree lighting and the Christmas parade brings in a lot of traffic,” said Smith. “On Black Friday people tend to come in after they go to the bigger stores.”

Jensen said Main Street Antiques has done nothing but grow over the course of the recession.

“With the whole buying second hand and go green movement we’ve actually grown. People are looking for furniture that is better quality at a lower price. Here a dresser may be older and used but it’s made out of real wood, but if you go to a big furniture store you’re likely going to pay more for particle board,” she said.

The global and domestic economic condition affects local business as well. Vail Creek Jewelry Designs owner Alta Fernandes said she has had to diversify her sales to include alternative metals and gift items like hand bags, soaps and candles to meet customer needs.

“With the price of gold skyrocketing the days of buying a quality gold ring for $200 are so long gone, we’ve had to adapt,” she explained.

Fernandes said Black Friday isn’t that big of a deal for her business, but the month of December can make it or break it.

“For our business it’s all about December, it makes up about 75 percent of our business. While we can’t compete with big box stores on Black Friday, there are great deals to be had with more unique items downtown over the month.” 

Like Vintage Market and Main Street Antiques, Vail Creek has seen business growth during the recession. Next Monday Fernandes said Vail Creek will be opening a new, second location at Monte Vista Crossings, near Target.

Movement toward small business shopping is gathering attention. The U.S. Small Business announced that Saturday is “Small Business Saturday” — a day dedicated to supporting small business on one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year.

“Small businesses are the foundation of our economy — half of America’s workers either own or work for a small business,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills. “Small Business Saturday is an opportunity to show our support for our friends and neighbors who throughout the year are growing our local economy, as well as supporting local initiative and organizations.”

Small businesses can expect sales to increase — if they pay attention to national predictions.

ShopperTrak, a business analytics service, said national retail sales will rise 3 percent, while foot traffic will decrease 2.2 percent. A Gallup Poll indicated American shoppers will have about $50 more this year ($764) for holiday shopping than last year and nearly $150 more than 2009.

To contact Jonathan McCorkell, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.