Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

December 29, 2013

Local holiday spending varies

Reports range from a ‘tremendous’ to ‘so-so’ business season

Tim Preston
The Independent

ASHLAND — Christmas spending seemed to be both up and down in the area according to local merchants.

“We had a great year,” said Rebecca Tackett at Pollock’s Jewelers, who reported excellent interest in items including Pandora bracelets and charms as well as Rhythm of Love Jewelry, Hearts on Fire diamonds and Waterford crystal.

“We did have a good year. The area supports us so well,” Tackett said, noting the store is often a traditional meeting place for multiple generations. “‘It wouldn’t be Christmas without Pollock’s.’ We heard that so many times. It’s just like old-home week here.”

Steve Blaine, owner of Steve’s Jewelery in Flatwoods, cited the economy and the nation’s poor leadership in creating jobs among reasons for a so-so year at his shop.

“We did OK. We made money, but it’s the economy — that’s it,” said Blaine, who reported his customers “were generally happy” with a few high-end purchases for the holiday.

“We sold a little bit of everything,” he said. “The small end wasn’t very good because poor people’s poor. In general, it was a slow Christmas.”

Looking on the bright side, Blaine chuckled and said, “I don’t have to restock.”

Artist Denise Spaulding said people did some Christmas shopping at the Pendleton Art Center in downtown Ashland, although it was not a record-breaking season by any measure.

“I think we have done better in the past,” Spaulding said. “People who do commission work seemed to do pretty well. but I don’t think we had the shoppers we had in the past when we were a new center.”

Colleen Griffiths, owner of Haut Panache Boutique in downtown Ashland, said her shop enjoyed a tremendous holiday shopping season.

“It went really well. For a lot of customers it was their first time venturing into our shop,” Griffiths said, adding many new customers were referred by friends and family who have recently discovered the shop in the Camayo Arcade Building. “It was really, really good. We didn’t know what to expect.”

Griffiths said she has heard many reports about small shops “making a comeback,” and often hears from customers who appreciate the return of small shops like hers returning to the downtown district. The boutique owner credits a combination of “unique and affordable,” for her shop’s success.

“They just like things you won’t find anywhere else,” she said, adding she also strives to offer items in every price range.

Julie Yates, co-owner of Premier Duty Gear in Ashland, said the former Army/Navy store had lots of demand for items including surplus military items.

“A lot of ammo cans. A lot of surplus — and backpacks,” she said, explaining people tend to buy ammo cans for air-and-water tight storage, although one customer refinishes and decorates the ammo cans to give as gifts.

“We also sold a lot of kids’ clothing — BDU tops and bottoms. We were constantly ordering those,” she said. “And, a lot of parents were buying bug-out bags (72-hour survival kits) for their kids. Zombie T-shirts did really well too.”

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2651.