DIGBY, N.S. – One downtown business owner says she’s having her best Christmas season ever, while another described this month’s sales as “terrible”.
Michelle Emin, owner of Second Look, a shop that sells wooden crafts created by Emin, is reporting her best Christmas sales ever.
“We’re having a great Christmas, and that’s good news,” Emin said, between customers, saying she only had a few seconds to talk, as more people entered the store. “You really need a good Christmas to get through the rest of the winter months.”
Her store has been in downtown Digby for 12 years and she said her sales this year are up from all previous years.
“That’s right now,” she laughed. “We all know what’s going to happen next month. I’m going to be sitting here painting all by myself, just like the Maytag repair man.”
Emin said her tourist season was also really good this year, and she credits her products, selection and the handmade quality that offers her business the repeat clientele.
“And the fact that we can do custom orders,” she added. “That really helps.”
Across the street however, Kathy Bowser, owner of Kathy’s fashions plus, is not happy about her sales season.
“Last year was bad,” Bowser said. “This year is terrible. The worst I’ve ever seen.”
Her shop sells women’s clothing and custom t-shirt designs as well as a host of accessories.
“I’m sitting here, doing nothing, four days before Christmas,” Bowser said. “If something doesn’t change soon, all the small businesses are going to be gone.”
While Bowser said she had a good tourist season, she pointed the finger at online shopping as the culprit for her slow sales.
“People just aren’t coming in here anymore,” she said. “We started out terrific, and it’s slowly just died off. Some people say, ‘I forgot you were here.’”
Bowser is worried that her business might not survive the winter.
“I thought about closing up for the winter, but I can’t afford to do that either,” she said, outlining that she has to keep paying the store rent, whether she’s open or not. “It’s not good,” she admitted. “Right now, I’m having to use some of my husband’s pension money just to pay the bills. I don’t know what I’m going to do. If sales don’t pick up, I can’t keep going.”
She says she’s tried advertising, specials, social media but nothing is working.
“People like what I have when they come in,” she said. “I just have to figure out how to get them in here.”
Further up the street, sales results were more of a mixed bag. Atlantic Treasures Energy Stones and Crystals owner, Brian Dugas, said this is his first Christmas season in his new location and it’s going really well.
“This is a new location for my store and it’s made all the difference,” he said. Dugas said he’s also driving traffic to his store using Facebook contests and promotions, and for him, that’s really working.
“I’ve been really, really busy this season,” Dugas said. “I have nine different crafters stuff in here. We have ornaments, stained glass and candles, and I’m offering essential oil classes. They’re really popular.”
Down the street, Peter Wilson, owner of The Shoe Box and Peter Turnbull, manager of Fancy Jewellers said they’re both having more of an average year.
“Business is up and down,” Wilson said, and a few minutes later, Turnbull echoed the same words.
“This year has had its ups and downs. Overall, we’re not too bad,” Turnbull said. “But sales are down a bit at this time from last year.” He smiled. “We have three more shopping days left, so we’ll see.”