Mid-Ohio Valley businesses report strong Christmas sales

Photo by Brett Dunlap Nancy Crowley and Barbara Murray of Mulberry Lane ring up items Thursday during the after-Christmas sale. Local businesses reported having a good holiday sales season.

PARKERSBURG — ­Many local businesses reported having a good Christmas sales season.

Many reported sales were up over previous years and that sales remained steady right up to Christmas.

“Our Christmas season was very brisk and very good,” said Tina Salmans, co-owner of Mulberry Lane in Parkersburg. “It was pretty steady throughout the season. It started early and ended late.”

Salmans said they did not have as many returns this year as they normally have.

Vera Bradley products sold well this season.

Photo by Brett Dunlap Beverly Neff, owner of Neff’s Country Loft in Belpre, does some straightening up in her store during after-Christmas sales.

“That also accounts for the majority of our returns,” Salmans said. “People exchange it because they prefer a different pattern.”

Something new they sold were “Seasonal Crates,” locally made crates packed with different foods and products. Some had ornaments, others were West Virginia-themed and others had West Virginia food products in them.

“Those sold really well for us,” Salmans said.

They were able to deliver and ship a lot of those for people.

“That was a really good new thing for us,” Salmans said.

Photo by Brett Dunlap Keith McClung, owner of Crown Floral, was busy Thursday getting a Valentine’s Day display ready. The business had a good Christmas season, selling a lot of holiday merchandise, he said. Now they are getting ready for the next big holiday for many businesses.

Mulberry Lane continually sold candles, decor items, flags, yard decor and T-shirts/sweatshirts. They had free gift wrapping which was another reason many people shopped there, especially toward the final days before Christmas, Salmans said.

Mulberry Lane also sold a lot of seasonal merchandise throughout the Christmas season.

“We sell a lot of gourmet food items, people give as gifts and people use for entertaining with holiday parties,” Salmans said. She believes the store will continue to sell food items and dips up to New Year’s Eve.

Salmans said overall their sales improved over last year.

They have had a lot of people in the last couple of days for the after-Christmas sales. They will keep their holiday merchandise out through January, but it is usually the first week after Christmas when people are really looking for it, Salmans said.

“We are always busy the day after Christmas,” Salmans said. “All the Christmas merchandise is now discounted.”

At Neff’s Country Loft in Belpre, owner Beverly Neff said they had a good and steady holiday season this year.

“We had a bit more traffic than normal,” she said. “I think many people started right after Thanksgiving with Shop Small events. People got a good early start this year.”

Neff’s sells materials and fabrics which people have been using to make hand-made items for gifts.

“A lot of people were finishing up gifts they had been working on for a while,” Neff said. “A lot of people were doing smaller gifts this year. I think many people were trying to get back to basics.”

They were also selling a lot of candles and scents, things for the home which were the most in-demand items they had.

Neff’s too is still selling dips and things for parties as people are preparing for New Year’s.

Neff’s has also seen a lot of traffic in the days after Christmas with people hitting the big stores first and then stopping at smaller businesses, Neff said.

“It seemed like people hit the mall first and then on the way home they stopped here,” Neff said.

Crown Floral in Parkersburg had set up its “Christmas Shop” by the second week in October, owner Keith McClung said. They had 3,000 square feet filled with holiday merchandise, animated displays and more.

“That was not a mistake,” he said. “We had a very good Christmas season. Our sales were up 30-35 percent.”

Crown concentrated on items that were unique to this area.

Usually, the majority of Christmas decor is sold by the first week in December. However, McClung said people were buying items right up to Christmas.

They offered gift-wrapping as well which helped bring in people.

They met with customers to go over what they were looking for in gifts.

“You get a feeling in meeting with people and going over things that you can’t do with online sales,” McClung said.

McClung said they sold over 15,000 of Cheryl’s Cookies, from the gourmet baked goods company, over the season.

Food items and fresh flower arrangements were good last-minute gift items for many people, he said.

Crown had people coming in to see the animated displays, like stores used to have years ago. That was popular with a lot of people and families, McClung said.

Soon, the work will begin to get the store ready for the winter season and Valentine’s Day.

Their after-Christmas sales have been brisk, but they are about sold out of the seasonal items, McClung said.

“To come in now, people would think we were going out of business,” McClung said with a laugh. “There isn’t much left.”