Village Merchants Mixed on Extended Holiday Hours
Merchants offered mixed reviews midway through a Pinehurst Business Guild marketing promotion designed to draw more holiday shoppers.
The Guild started promoting last month the fact that participating shops and restaurants in the village would stay open until 7 p.m. every Thursday this month.
Tom Stewart, owner of Old Sport Gallery & Bookshop, said the early sunset makes it “very dark” on Market Square.
“We’ve been doing it for two weeks, and I have not seen a soul,” Stewart said. “I’m a team player. I’ll try anything. But you can’t force the issue. There’s not a tradition of doing it.”
Stewart said his shop has experienced its best fall in four or five years, and Internet sales are up. But, so far, he feels that the village’s restaurants and bars are the main benefactors of the holiday promotion.
“When you have foot traffic, you’ve got a chance,” he said. “It’s just very dark on this back street. There’s just not much happening at night from a retail perspective.”
Keith McDaniel, co-owner of Green Gate Olive Oils and Green Gate Gourmet, said he hasn’t seen a lot of change.
“I don’t know if it was publicized well enough or consumers are just so used to our stores closing at 5 p.m.,” McDaniel said. “There may have been some merchants who have had some success. I’m not sorry that we tried it.”
McDaniel said more publicity and merchant participation are needed to make the promotion successful.
“If it’s going to happen, 80 percent or more of the businesses need to be open and pushing it,” he said. “It’s not something I wouldn’t do again. I think it was worth trying. We just need a more concerted effort next time.”
Gwen Detering, owner of the Village Wine Shop, said the holiday promotion has fit in well with her regular schedule of Thursday events.
“I’m open anyway, so I like that people want to stay open later,” Detering said. “I’m all for that.”
The Village Wine Shop will host a Spanish wine tasting Thursday, and have live music for its beer and wine tasting on Dec. 22.
“It gives people a chance to peruse our gift baskets and get 10 percent off if they purchase at least six bottles of wine,” Detering said. “I’m open on Sunday when nobody else is, so I understand some of the frustration.”
Stewart, who opened his store 15 years ago, emphasized that “things aren’t bad overall” and noted that the village had improved since he opened his doors.
“When I came here, our shops were dreadful,” he said. “We’re 110 percent better off now than we were then. Pinehurst has great stores. We’re very lucky. We’ve just got to stay positive.”
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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