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Biz Owners: Shoppers Coming to Collingswood, Ready to Buy

Despite some early sluggishness and a compressed calendar, businesses report customers are in the mood to spend—and Collingswood Cash is greasing the wheels.

What do Collingswood business owners have to say about the holiday shopping so far? Credit: Matt Skoufalos.
What do Collingswood business owners have to say about the holiday shopping so far? Credit: Matt Skoufalos.
It's a shortened holiday calendar this year, with a late Thanksgiving taking away an extra weekend of shopping for retailers.

Then there's the realities of operating in a down economy that has seen the emergence of specialized retail spending pushes: Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and, new this year, Gifting Tuesday, as nonprofits get into the mix.

Throw in a healthy dose of competition from the one-stop shopping provided by the nearby Cherry Hill Mall, the hourglass economies of which have been further accentuated by additional high-end department stores and eateries in recent years, and it might not seem like there's a lot left over for small-town retail districts.

But despite a bit of sluggishness in the early going, Collingswood retailers say they've seen an uptick in shopping from regular and new customers alike.

"I think, finally, people have holiday on the brain," said Cyndi Zippilli, owner of The American Table. "They're buying the higher-priced items instead of just the lower-priced things; they're thinking gifts."

At Duck Duck Goose, owner Katherine Swann said that the Collingswood Christmas atmosphere, which includes free parking and scores of events, is helping sales.

"A good portion of our customers seem to be people who just happen to be walking by," she said.

"It's been a wonderful shopping season already," agreed Galerie Marie owner Kimberly Camp. "It's wonderful to be in a community where everything is so business-forward."

At least anecdotally, numbers for November and December so far seem "off," said The Pop Shop co-owner Bill "Stink" Fisher, perhaps from online and mall shopping.

"People don't realize they can get the same things in these small towns at the same price," Fisher said. "We need your business to stay in business."

Fisher noted that restaurants especially seem to "lose out in the beginning" of the shopping season as customers put off dining out to reserve more dollars for gift purchases.

But he believes that money will come back as the season moves along.

"I think what we're dealing with here is just people in flux," Fisher said. "Our clientele, we're still seeing them...in bits and pieces...which leads me to believe that everyone is going through the same thing I am as a shopper," which is the pressure to buy holiday gifts.

One thing all retailers mentioned is how the Collingswood Cash bonus dollars have helped juice their sales. 

"The first day Collingswood Cash was sold...people came immediately and bought some of the bigger things that they wanted to make sure weren't gone later," Swann said.

At Warner Landscape & Patio, where shoppers are picking up cut Christmas trees from Oregon and Nova Scotia, Julie Warner said Collingswood Cash is pouring in.

"It's always great to see essentially a gift certificate to the whole entire town," she said.

Want to hear more comments from your local business owners? Click the video above.

Looking for that perfect something? Be sure to check out the Collingswood Patch Small Business Gift Guide and support your community.

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