Local stores vie for last holiday dollars

Post-Christmas sales pull in customers

Posted: Wednesday, December 27, 2006

With Christmas 2006 now history, Juneau business are turning from decorations of red and green to determine whether they ended the season in the black.

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With gift certificates still to be redeemed and returns to be exchanged, it was too early for most merchants to quantify profits and losses. Most were upbeat, however.

Katy Petsel, office manager for Nugget Alaskan Outfitter, said this year's Christmas season was an "all-time high" that capped an outstanding year.

"It was an awesome sales season," she said. "We're driven by the weather. With all that great snow we got early on, we did great."

Alaskan Outfitter was one of many Juneau retailers holding after-Christmas sales, but a 25 percent reduction on selected men's and women's sportswear wasn't the main reason for Tuesday's crowds at the store.

"We're slammed right now (with) lots of exchanges and returns," Petsel said. "Most people are coming in to trade for what they would have liked in size or color."

Deb Reifenstein, co-owner of Hearthside Books, gave the season a "very good" rating, in part because of the local passion for reading. Family items were especially popular, she said.

"We sold a lot of games, mostly family games, which is kind of a nice thing - family spending time together," she said.

Her most popular game this year was Apples to Apples, a humorous card game for all ages that deals with human behavior. Another big seller was Snorta, a children's game about animal noises.

On the bookshelves, local authors and topics were hot. Customers couldn't seem to get enough of a new calendar by Juneau photographer Mark Kelly.

"His is always the best-selling (calendar), hands down, every year," she said.

For Hearthside, the day after Christmas isn't about returns - it's about gift cards.

"Today we have lots of people bringing in gift cards," she said Tuesday. "We don't get a lot of returns, but generally it's a book they've already read."

Sales for Alaskan Brewing Co. went well this year, said Leo Novoa, marketing representative for the sales and retail department of the Juneau brewery.

"In general, we had a great year," he said. "Christmas sales were amazing."

To accommodate demand this Christmas season, the brewery, which celebrated its 20th anniversary, gave tours five days a week instead of the usual four. They also brewed a special-edition beer known as Raspberry-Wheat Ale, reminiscent of Belgian ale. Locals also hit the brewery gift shop and snatched up T-shirts for out-of-state friends

"We have something for everyone," Novoa said.

Prosperity wasn't universal, said Bruce Walter of Cuts Online Salon and Day Spa.

"We've been down this season," Walter said. "People try to look good for the holiday season. It just wasn't as busy this season as it was last season."

Walter blamed sliding sales at the only downtown spa on parking problems and tighter budgets.

"I just think people cut back a little this year," he said

• Will Morris may be contacted at william.morris@juneauempire.com.

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