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Clothesline

T.C. Demaresq browses for post-holiday business news.

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Biscuit’s annual Boxing Day sale saw a line-up down Argyle an hour before opening. “We do a big blow-out because our attitude is that we don’t hesitate; when we go on sale, we go full on,” says owner Wendy Friedman. “There’s no halfway: we’re either on sale or we’re not. We’re not going to do a half-assed situation, so every single thing in our store was half-price.” Menswear and coats were the biggest sellers, but “people pick up good staple items like sweaters and jeans as well, and some people would come up with baskets full of bath and body products.” The line-up continued for most of the day, with employees manning the door and only allowing customers to enter once others left. “We try to do it as quickly as we can because we hate for people to have to wait,” says Friedman, who, in the interest of expedient service, didn’t take a bathroom break until 4pm.

Project bedroom

Project 9 at 5525 Artillery Place experienced a shift in sales items following Christmas—away from accessories like vases and clocks and back to furniture. “We have all kinds of random pieces on sale,” says employee Carolyn Maguire. “We’ve sold sofas, we’ve sold chairs, we’ve sold rugs.” Maguire says the furniture business is pretty steady throughout the year, but is busiest following the renovation seasons of summer and fall. And a sale never hurts. “People like sales,” she says, “so if there’s a good item that’s on sale, then they tend to kind of think ‘oh, maybe I need that.’”

Record sales

CD Plus at 1592 Barrington saw a spike in vinyl sales throughout December, and the trend has continued into the New Year. “We’ve sold a shitload of vinyl,” says manager Fabian O’Brien. “All new vinyl. There’s no one item that stands out, but that’s the thing that struck me the most about sales over Christmas was the amount of vinyl, that just picked up out of nowhere.” O’Brien isn’t sure of the reasons behind the sudden interest, but notes that even customers who don’t own record players have started collecting. As for O’Brien himself, “I sadly will buy something on vinyl and CD, the same album, because I only have my record player in my computer room, and then I have my stereo in my living room.” Another popular item for CD Plus this season was the Astro Boy box set, which, coupled with the vinyl frenzy, illustrates the increased marketability of nostalgia.

Fistful of future

Future Shop at 208 Chain Lake experienced a run on the same high-tech personal entertainment devices in the weeks following Christmas as it did in the weeks before. Popular items included iPods, MP3 players, digital cameras and the Xbox 360. “You can’t keep in stock,” says operations manager Andrew Frelick. “Same with iPods.” Frelick attributes the desirability of these products to customers’ fascination with technology. “They are kind of overwhelmed with the technology,” he says, “but the fact of the size being so small and being able to hold so much information and music on them is pretty neat.” Frelick says Future Shop continues to be as busy as it was before Christmas and he expects the crowds to continue until at least mid-January.

Under cover

Bookmark bookstore at 5686 Spring Garden saw hardcovers flying off the shelves. Manager Micheal Hamm says the two most popular items were The Complete Calvin and Hobbes (a two-volume compilation of every Calvin and Hobbes cartoon ever published) and The Complete New Yorker (a book and eight DVD-ROMs containing all 4,109 issues of the New Yorker since its inception in February 1925). “They were kind of dream-and-drool things,” says Hamm, “like everybody on staff said ‘oh, I wish I had one of those,’ but they were quite pricey, so when people got the opportunity to have a discount, they went right for them.” History books were also a strong seller, particularly those about the Middle East and post-war Europe, including Robert Fisk’s The Great War for Civilization: The Conquest of the Middle East and Tony Judt’s Post-War: A History of Europe Since 1945. Bookmark also experienced a post-Christmas calendar-buying frenzy as people rushed to prepare for the new year.

Drained

The Body Shop in Park Lane Mall on Spring Garden received fewer shoppers than expected during their Boxing Week sale. “It was definitely not what we anticipated,” says manager Crystal Robinson, “and it was definitely not the numbers and the traffic that we saw last year.” Robinson speculates that this trend could be caused by weather, or possibly the fact that Christmas was on a Sunday. “The trends were really different, and across the country that seems to have been what has happened, that people were just not as interested in shopping this year as they were last year at this point in time,” she says, adding, “If anything moved it was definitely the sale product. We were talking price points of 10 dollars and under, that’s what people were interested in. They had been shopped out and broke and they were looking for a deal and a treat for themselves.” Strong sellers included bubble bath, body moisturizer and home fragrance oil.

Deal in the New year. Email to: shoptalk@thecoast.ca

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