Business "steady" for small local owned stores

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - At Bohemian Boutique, owner Brandy Wittmer spends the morning arranging items in the store. The first dollar she made hangs on the wall. She wants to see more dollars now.

The holiday sales season started off good on Black Friday.

"We opened at midnight, and I actually had people camped out, so that was really good," Wittmer said.

"It's my first Black Friday. It's steady but I think with Black Friday and Thanksgiving so close to Christmas the people are going to be last minute I think this year."

That's a feeling shared by Jessica Treigle, the manager at Shelton Jeweler where sales figures aren't exactly glimmering quite yet.

"This week has been steady. We could definitely increase our traffic and have more customers come in. I think with Thanksgiving being so late this year people are just kind of forgetting that Christmas is right around the corner," Triegle said.

Business owners like Jan Rideout are using that word a lot these days, steady.

"Well, they've been somewhat steady but they could be a little better. I think that everybody is kind of coming in and looking and trying to decide what they want to do," Rideout said.

One thing they want to do is buy toys, like at the helicopter store, where sales are up 50 percent from last year. There may be a reason, according to owner Jamie Bell.

"I believe the economy is turning around. People actually have a little more money in their pocket now. I don't know what's making them have the money in their pocket, but they are spending," Bell said.

This time of the year is critical for small businesses. Many of them make as much as 25 percent of the revenue they take in every year during the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

They also have another fierce competitor, the World Wide Web, according to Rideout.

"I would just want to say that for small businesses in Ocean Springs, before you shop online, think about what you could do by buying something in a small business that's going to help the community," said Rideout.

Hopefully, that help is on the way.

Local business owners also say they must offer two things that set them apart from large retailers. The first is one-on-one customer service. The other is treating their customers like family.

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