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Some opt for local shops over mall mania

Posted November 28, 2008

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— Some consumers were choosing not to fight the crowds at the malls on Black Friday, shopping instead at unique, local specialty shops like Swagger Gifts in Cary.

They say they get customer service and can support local business owners.

They provide a counterpoint to the big picture economists paint for this recession-bound holiday season. That story has anything but holiday cheer.

“Unfortunately, retailers are going to have to have expectations that it's going to be a disastrous season, which means watching your inventory and number of employees (and) trying to save as much as possible, expecting business will be poor this year,” Duke University economist Campbell Harvey said of the national situation.

On Kildare Farm Road in Cary, though, Swagger employee Heather Lilly is upbeat.

“What everybody is saying about how everything is slowing down – we're seeing things pick up. It’s really good. We're all really excited about it,” Lilly said.

Small retailers say shoppers seem to be supporting local businesses in record numbers this year, despite the grim economic news.

“We don't want to lose the cute little shops,” shopper Heather Jackson said. “You can't find these things at the mall. I don't even go to the mall hardly anymore. I love to come to these cute boutiques to get unique gifts people can't get everywhere.”

Another big perk of a store like Swagger is free gift-wrapping, which saves the consumer time and money – no small concern this year.

With consumer spending accounting for two-thirds of the U.S. economy, the decisions individuals make about where to shop and how much to spend this year are bound to be important news for the month to come.

The National Retail Federation predicts close to 128 million people will shop this weekend – down slightly from the 135 million people who said they shopped last year.

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  • luv2shop1231 Nov 28, 2008

    This is a great story! I love supporting my local community. That is what will keep our economy growing strong here in North Carolina. I have been to many of these little shops and I agree with the others, you can find so many unique items, that just doesn't compare to the mall and dept. store shopping. I came across a neat little local site that will keep you in the know about these boutiques, new boutiques, boutique sales and more in the Raleigh-Durham area. Check it out at www.triangleboutiques.com and sign up for their email. You'll love it! Happy shopping!

  • ncweddingdj.com Nov 28, 2008

    We were in New Bern today and went into Wiley Florist there, right beside the hospital. Great, great service. Nice selection of flowers and arrangements, so we bought a couple and had them taken to the hospital to a relative in there. Very, very creative arrangements, low prices, such nice sales folks in this Wiley Florist store. It's appparently a local New Bern business rather than a chain or disembodied teleflorist service. Can we get one in Raleigh or Cary? Good story, good point, WRAL.

  • Magnetic Elephant Nov 28, 2008

    Love this store!!! I was just there last week. :)

  • ncsulilwolf Nov 28, 2008

    Eeek - please excuse the lack of proofreading in my previous post. I got all caught up in my excitement for WRAL's brief moment of POSITIVE local coverage!

  • ncsulilwolf Nov 28, 2008

    Local is the way to go! Swagger is one of my personal faves (anyone who knows me is well aware of that) because they do so much locally to support our community an many of the philanthropic endeavors in this area. Additionally, speaking of fair-trade (Go anneonymousone!), Beleza in Cameron Village is one of the best place for truly unique jewelry, accessories, and apparel that are sold with a happy conscience!

    And last, as a third generation employee of a small, locally-owned family business... we like to DEFINITELY like to keep it local!

  • John Q Public Nov 28, 2008

    I like supporting local restaurants and stores as much as I can, but sometimes I just don't always get to hear about these places right away.

  • teacher-mom Nov 28, 2008

    I love to support local busisnesses. I love to go into a business that knows who I am and acts happy to see me. They get my business everytime.

  • mandy3 Nov 28, 2008

    I just wanted to say that "small locally owned boutique or restaurant" does not always equal "more expensive" - that is a common misconception. A lot of times you can find items that are equal in price or possibly less expensive- and you get better customer service and more unique items or better food and a more attentive wait staff.

  • NC Reader Nov 28, 2008

    anneonymousone -- Amen! Ten Thousand Villages is a great place for gifts for school teachers.

    Also, Quail Ridge Books is a wonderful bookstore, with lots of author events and a terrific staff. I decided to get most of my Christmas presents there, to help support a business I believe in.

    (By the way, I'm not affiliated with either store. I'm just a big fan.)

  • Sophie Lowe Nov 28, 2008

    As long as money is no problem to you, these stores are great. Break out your wallet and save the world!

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