Holidays can make or break the profit margins of small retail businesses.
In Dickinson, the time carries even greater meaning for relatively new businesses — especially those that sprang up in recent years around the promise of the burgeoning energy industry and population growth, only to see commerce wane in the wake of the industry’s slowdown.
“In general, business is slower,” said Brooke Leno, manager of Out of Town and Out of Town Kids in the Prairie Hills Mall. “People aren’t coming in and dropping a bunch of money like they used to. They’re being more strategic about their purchases. It’s nothing that’s going to make or break us. It’s definitely slower and you can tell. But it seems like the last few days, people are getting into that Christmas shopping.”
Stores take ‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach anticipating deal hunters
Customers flooded Dickinson stores Thursday night and throughout the day Friday, hunting for deals and officially kicking off the holiday shopping season. Yet, store managers in a city known for having employee shortcomings said they were able to keep pace well, despite hectic instances. “This is our all-hands-on-deck thing,” Herbergers store manager Sarah Molnar said. “This is our year right here. So basically, we’re all here.”
Herbergers was the first retail store other than Walmart to open on Thanksgiving Day, starting its deals at 6 p.m. It stayed open through the night and, by 3 p.m. Friday, still had customers waiting in long lines at service counters waiting to pay for the deals they’d discovered.
Kyle Gengler knows he is starting his job at a busy time.
Not only is the Dickinson retail business booming, the holidays just happen to be right around the corner.
Last Tuesday morning, shortly after opening at 9 a.m., customers and looky loos started trickling in to the new Sears location in the T-Rex Plaza. Some shopped for tools — the people who knew exactly what they needed — while others browsed appliances and sale items.
“I’m already sitting here and gearing up for next week,” Gengler said as he sat behind the store’s computer, taking a break in between customer questions and shoring up his delivery driver’s morning itinerary.
On Thanksgiving night — or Gray Thursday, if you want to call it that — crowds of shoppers gathered inside of Walmart awaiting the proverbial 6 p.m. starting bell that allowed them to buy discounted items such as TVs, iPads, video games, vacuums and even Tupperware.
Yes, Tupperware. But to be fair, at less than $7 for 30 items, any 1950s housewife will tell you it was a steal of a deal. And any 2013 gamer will say you’re crazy if you’re not in line for $30 copies of Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto V.
Love it or hate it, Thanksgiving and Black Friday sales sure do have a way of bringing out customers.
Lenny Johnson calls the sound similar to a “stampede of horses.”
The co-owner of Starboard, an apparel store in the Prairie Hills Mall, has been a part of three Black Friday doorbuster sales pushes. Each one has been more interesting than the last, he said, as the mall doors open and customers flood in — some of them running — toward stores looking for deals.
“It is absolutely the craziest thing you will ever see,” Johnson said. “You can literally hear the feet.”
Dickinson’s population has practically doubled in the past five years and many who work in retail businesses said sales have improved during that span.