Business

Only a couple weeks of holiday shopping left. How are Whatcom retailers doing?

Tina Anderson looks over some of the shirts at her shop, Bay to Baker Trading Co. in Fairhaven on Dec. 6. Anderson said products with local ties, like the Bellingham T-shirts, have been selling well this holiday season.
Tina Anderson looks over some of the shirts at her shop, Bay to Baker Trading Co. in Fairhaven on Dec. 6. Anderson said products with local ties, like the Bellingham T-shirts, have been selling well this holiday season. The Bellingham Herald

It’s the stretch run for the holiday shopping season and some Whatcom County retailers are relatively upbeat about how things are going.

Several of the retailers I talked to described a similar trend: Black Friday and the following days were busy, followed by a steady but quieter stretch. If shoppers go according to tradition in Whatcom County, the coming days will start to get busier, with the most intense shopping happening the final weekend before Christmas.

For some, this has the makings of a successful season. Tina Anderson, who operates Fairhaven Toy Garden and the Bay to Baker Trading Co. on Harris Avenue, said in an interview that both stores are doing better than last year. Anderson said she has noticed two trends: More customers are coming in saying they want to buy local, and more are looking for toys that are not electronic devices.

“We have a lot of people saying ‘I want to get my family off the phones’ and play something together,” Anderson said, noting that board games and puzzles are popular this season.

At the Bay to Baker store, customers are snapping up T-shirts, mugs and other items that have local ties, whether it says Bellingham or has a Cascadia connection. Pictures of the Bellingham flag, salmon and orcas are popular as gifts or for tourists who want to take something home, she said.

Over at Greenhouse in downtown Bellingham, it’s BreAnne Green’s first holiday season as co-owner, having purchased the business from Chris Foss and Foster Rose earlier this year. Sales at the home decor store are going as projected, which is great, she said in an email.

Holiday decor has been a particularly strong segment, as people spend on their home early on, she said. Gift purchases are strong in the housewares category, she said, adding that coffee makers, blenders and cookware are doing well.

Green said she is also expecting a rush in the final two weeks, so the store is staying open later starting Dec. 14.

At Three French Hens in Fairhaven, the boutique had a strong Black Friday weekend and is expecting a busy finish to the season, said Cassie Wolfkill, a stylist at the clothing and home decor boutique. Wolfkill said she’s seen mainly local clientele so far this season.

Across the U.S., online holiday sales have been very strong through Dec. 6, according to an article in Fortune.com. The article cited a report from Adobe Analytics that consumers have spent $80.3 billion in online shopping, an 18.6 percent increase over last year.

Other Tidbits

In last week’s column about some restaurant closures, a print design created some confusion about the Whiskey’s restaurant in Fairhaven. The restaurant is very much open as new owner John Enright puts together a new menu for 2019. ... A state bar/restaurant liquor license application was submitted for a space in Fairhaven. The proposed name is Southside and the applicants are Brian Taylor and Louise Favier, who are also operating Jack’s in downtown Bellingham. Southside is planning to go into 1323 11th St., in the former Melvin Brewing taproom. ... A liquor license was approved for a business called Don Samuel Mexican Cuisine & Tequila Bar, which is going into 5225 Industrial Place in Ferndale. That address was formerly home to the Kickin’ A Saloon & Dance Hall.

Dave Gallagher: 360-715-2269; @BhamHeraldBiz.
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