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Retailers see differences for 2020 Christmas

By Sue Sitter - | Nov 21, 2020

Sue Sitter/PCT Jessica Brossart stands near one of the decorated trees in Market on Main.

Although 2020 left an impact on this year’s Christmas in a Small Town, held Nov. 5 through 7, local retailers say they’re pleased overall with how the event turned out.

Jessica Brossart of Market on Main said, “Christmas in a Small Town Thursday and Friday was really good. There were a lot of people coming from out of town to shop and making their way around town.”

Brossart said shoppers browsed downtown businesses and learned about Rugby’s many participating businesses, including shops located on highways on the outskirts of town.

I know the other stores try to do that, too.

Typical for the times, masks sold steadily, according to Brossart.

“We have several handmade masks and then we have some we order in,” she said

I know the other stores try to do that, too

Brossart said most of her customers wore masks in her store. She and her employees wear them as well, “or we have them in our pockets.”

Brossart said all of her customers practiced social distancing, staying in small groups, far apart from other shoppers. “People are being really good about everything,” she said. “We’re doing what we can.”

Brossart said during the Christmas shopping season her business would “focus a lot on Facebook and social media, because people aren’t coming out of their homes a lot, so that gives them another shopping option.” Brossart added she hoped to stream live promotions in her store on social media. “Now that we’re almost done Christmas decorating, I think we’ll be able to do more of that again.”

“We do online retailing for our CBD products,” she added. “We have hempcbdoutlet.com as our website.”

“We just ship hemp products from here, and we’re also a wholesaler to other businesses,” she added.

Market on Main displays and sells gifts of all types, handmade by local small businesses.

“We have 30 to 40 handmade consigners at any given time that are local and within about an hour radius of here,” Brossart said.

“They sell things anywhere from dÈcor to our new seller, Garden Dweller from Esmond, who has rubs, spices and dips, to water tumblers to gnomes to handmade soaps and lotions, also out of Esmond,” she said. “We have a ton of consigners from Rugby and Willow City, too.”

“I always tell people when you shop here, you’re not just shopping at a small storefront in Rugby, you’re shopping at all the small businesses we represent, too,” she added.

Some Christmas items didn’t make it to Market in Main in time for the event.

“Ironically, a lot of our Christmas stuff didn’t arrive before Christmas in a Small Town because the one area it ships out of was in Canada, and it was stuck in customs forever,” Brossart said. “So, we’re just getting it this week. We don’t have a ton of Christmas stuff, but some of our consigners got their stuff to us so we had a nice variety of stuff for people. We have a lot more Christmas stuff coming,” she added with a laugh. “It is what it is,” Brossart shrugged.

Across the hallway from Market on Main, Jennifer Mattson of the Jeneral Store, a shop specializing in second-hand goods, said, “There was definitely a lot less traffic this year.”

Mattson said she saw her regular customers during the event. “When people saw the decorations, they’d think of Christmas, but this year, with everything that’s been going on, it just crept up on us,” she noted, adding, “It was just different this year. That’s about all I can say.”

On US Highway 2, holiday spirit filled every room of the Brown Lantern gift shop.

“We always have a different theme up front,” owner Melissa Kraft said. “This year’s theme was ‘There’s no Christmas like a Gnome Christmas.’ We just filled up the whole front with gnomes. People just went crazy buying up our gnomes,” she added with a smile.

“In our bedroom area, we had red and black and white and black buffalo plaid. We had lots of red and white Christmas-themed stuff in our kitchen area and Christmas trees,” Kraft added, describing themed rooms filled with household gifts and dÈcor. “We have some pop-up Christmas trees this year. You just pop them up – you may have to fluff them a little bit – and they’re already decorated.”

“When you’re done with them, you can collapse them and put them away,” she added. “We also have corner trees, which don’t take up too much space. They already have the lights on them. Those are kind of cool.”

“We also have our snowmen,” she said. “Last year, we did really well with them. We also have light-up snow globes,” she added, pointing to lighted boxes, globes and toy tractors with glitter floating inside, twinkling in the lights. “Anything that lights up, people love,” she added. “We have a lot of light-up pictures on the wall.”

“We have lots of things that are musical. Our metal trees have really gone well, too,” she added, pointing to aluminum-plated blocks shape like trees.

“We just have a lot of different things here,” she said. “When we had Christmas in a Small Town this weekend, we had quite a variety, and it really put people in a good mood and gave them the Christmas spirit.”

“I know it’s early, but we want to get people looking in Rugby and shopping in Rugby before they go other places,” Kraft said of the event.

“With this COVID, we were a little nervous, because we didn’t know how people felt and if they would come out and shop. But it was really steady throughout the whole three days. I think they wanted to get out, so they did. They didn’t want to go to the bigger towns; they wanted to stay more local, so if they saw something they liked, they bought it here rather than go out of town,” she added. “So, we did really well.”

Kraft said she keeps a list of customers from both Pierce County and other areas. She said she sends postcards to them every year to remind them of the event.

“I hope we can continue on with Christmas in a Small Town. It’s a good event to get people in our town and out and about and shopping, and bring other people to our town to see what’s available in the small town of Rugby,” Kraft added.

On North Dakota Highway 3, Teresa Block of Magnolia Wellness Spa said a few new customers stopped in to check the spa’s assortment of Himalayan salt lamps and other products.

“There were people who had driven past us on the highway and they decided to stop in and see what we’re about,” Block said. “My regulars came in and shopped, too.”

Block said the number of shoppers during Christmas in a Small Town was “not super great. It’s been better in the past.”

Block said the uptick in North Dakota COVID cases may have been a factor. “I’m sure things will be better in the future,” she said.

Jill McClintock of St. Michel Furniture said, “We had some foot traffic during the weekend. People were kind of in the holiday spirit, planning ahead and getting ideas for gifts.”

Main Street Boutique owner Ashley Berg shared on Facebook, “I love bringing life to downtown, especially holiday magic to bring memories for future generations.”

Main Street Boutique was also open for the event. Berg announced her store had also been a victim of theft.

“On Friday evening of November 7, 2020, a 5’5” holiday electric nutcracker was taken from the front of Main street Boutique on Main and Second Street,” Berg said in the Facebook announcement. “Did you see something? Did you hear something? It’s time to say something. Any information on who was involved is greatly appreciated.”

The announcement said anyone providing information leading to an arrest or recovery of the stolen property would receive a cash award.

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