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Merchants, shoppers kick off holiday shopping season
by Bobby Tedder and Samantha Shal
December 02, 2013 04:37 PM | 2520 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Samantha M. Shal / From left, Christie Malires of Huntsville, Ala., Kylie Dobrin of Suwanee and Monica Malires of Roswell walk through Lenox Square mall with their shopping finds on Black Friday.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal / From left, Christie Malires of Huntsville, Ala., Kylie Dobrin of Suwanee and Monica Malires of Roswell walk through Lenox Square mall with their shopping finds on Black Friday.
Misty Boachie, shopping bags in hand, looked the part of the satisfied customer.

The Sandy Springs resident arrived at Lenox Square mall shortly after 7 a.m. on Black Friday. Some hours later, the discerning shopper was headed for the exits — her purse lighter, but not emptied.

“[I think] I will spend less money on Christmas presents this year than last year,” said Boachie. “I think the deals were better this year.”

Based on early indications, the much-anticipated Thanksgiving weekend retail extravaganza largely failed to disappoint on either side of the cash register.

Mili Mehta and Fairy Pardiwalla, both of New York, were also on hand to partake in the Black Friday experience at Lenox. They got off to a much earlier start than Boachie, converging with family members at around 11:40 p.m. the previous night.

Whereas the mall opened its doors Friday at midnight, several national retail chain stores in the area were open for business on Thanksgiving.

Mehta, like Boachie, also thought she would spend less money on Christmas presents this go-round. Pardiwalla, on the other hand, acknowledged her shopping costs were headed in the other direction.

According to the National Retail Federation, more than 141 million shoppers were lured to the marketplace over the weekend — an uptick of two million from 2012.

Small Business Saturday — counter-programming of sorts to the Friday after Thanksgiving — appears to be making inroads as well.

Local merchants credit increased visibility for that leg of the holiday weekend commerce campaign's progression into a viable alternative and/or supplement.

“There is a lot more awareness about it now,” said Alina O’Neal, owner of the Learning Express Toys in Buckhead and Toco Hills.

O’Neal said sales from the same time last year were “definitely” up.

B.D. Jeffries, a Buckhead home furnishings and gifts store, also saw better numbers compared to post-Thanksgiving 2012. Moreover, proprietor Brad Weitz acknowledged the gains from a year ago to be "significant."

"I think more people know about [Small Business Saturday] and I think, in general, the economy seems to be a little better than last year," said Weitz.

For its part, Learning Express recorded a robust sales week before the Thanksgiving holiday, ultimately luring prospective patrons into the store on Saturday with ongoing special promotions and exclusive merchandise deals.

“The more people know about [Small Business Saturday], the more they make it a point to come by and shop at small businesses in town,” she added.

O’Neal considers herself the “typical” small business owner. The mother of three runs the company she started six years ago herself.

She singled out reciprocity as being key to her success.

“We do a lot in the community … and we have a large following in the community,” O’Neal said. “People love to shop at their neighborhood toy store.”
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