PARKERSBURG - Shoppers will be rushing home with their Christmas treasures as area retailers have decked the halls, extended their hours and hired extra help in preparation for what promises to be a very busy holiday season.
Katrina Stephens, marketing director at Grand Central Mall in Vienna said the mall is offering extended shopping hours and Santa Claus is on the scene waiting to hear those wish lists.
"Decorating is a huge project at the mall as we have almost a million square feet inside the facility. We start preparing in September, going through our inventory, fluffing and stuffing and rearranging, seeing what we have and what we need to order," Stephens said. "The crew works weeks ahead of time prepping everything so it was ready to go. Several of our staff members came in after closing hours over several days to get everything ready. There are lots of extra hands involved leading up to the Magical Day of Giving which was Sunday, Nov. 11 and was the start of our holiday season. Santa arrived on Nov. 15," Stephens said. Santa Claus is located at the north end of the mall, about halfway between center court and the Sears store.
Mulberry Lane Country Store in Parkersburg is all decked out for the holidays. (Photo by Pamela Brust)
The food court has been adorned with decor, as well as the other common areas, and guest services.
Christmas Eve hours for Santa are 10 a.m.-5 p.m., with a break from 1-1:45 p.m. For holiday mall hours go online to www.grandcentralmall.com. Santa's hours for the rest of December are: Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. with a break from 1-1:30 p.m. and 4:30-5:15 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. with a break from 1-1:30 p.m. and 4:30-5:15 p.m., and Sunday, from 11 a.m.-7 p.m., with breaks from 1-1:30 p.m. and 4:30-5:15 p.m.
Most local stores have hired seasonal workers to help with the additional workload, extended hours for the season, put up the tinsel and garland and stocked up on their merchandise in preparation of the holiday shopping season.
The U.S. National Retail Report is forecasting sales this year to be in the 3.5-4 percent range.
Mulberry Lane Country Store on Emerson Avenue in Parkersburg is packed with gifts, decorations, home furnishing and Christmas magic.
"We have a number of special events planned for December. We gift wrap at no charge and offer refreshments to the customers," said Tina Salmans. "The Jim Shore Collection, Vera Bradley and Department 56, and the candles are always popular items this time of year."
Beverly Neff, of Neff's Country Loft on Washington Boulevard in Belpre said she starts preparing for the next Christmas shortly after the last one.
"Every year we start in February going to shows and we try to go to another in June to makes purchases for the holiday season," Neff said, adding she tries to offer unique creations, including handmade items that can't be found elsewhere.
"We were named a Better Homes and Garden Quilt Sampler shop in 2009 and we have a lot of quilts and quilting supplies, fabric, quilt kits. "We are probably working on Christmas ten months of the year," Neff said.