Area businesses report positive holiday shopping news
Rugby area shoppers stayed close to home the weekend after Thanksgiving, enticed by discounts, unique items and even goodies offered by local businesses.
Cindy’s Country Cupboard owner Cindy Brossart put final touches on Christmas garlands on her store’s exterior early on Small Business Saturday, marked this year on Nov. 28. The special day to celebrate small businesses was established by American Express in 2010, when the credit card company encouraged “shopping small” the day after Black Friday, when big box stores saw lots of customers.
“It’s been good already,” Brossart said of customer traffic in her store. “I’ve had people coming in this morning.”
“I’m giving 18 percent off purchases today storewide because I’m celebrating 18 years in business,” Brossart said. “November 12 it was 18 years,” she added. “I’m doing this Black Friday and Small Business Saturday only.”
Brossart said Cindy’s Country Cupboard sold a variety of Christmas decorations, “but I have gifts for the whole family. I have sports items and wine items for the wine lovers,” she added. “Puzzles and toys are really going good right now for Christmas gifts.”
Brossart said she also participates in the Rugby Chamber of Commerce Scratch ‘n Win promotion. “I give the scratch cards out,” she said. “The more you purchase, the more I give out. That’s a chance to win something, too.”
Prizes for the promotion range from Rugby Bucks, spendable at participating local businesses, to gift items.
Brossart said she noticed shoppers strolling downtown and visiting her store followed health guidelines for social distancing and wore masks. “Everybody is careful,” she said. “They’re social distancing and wearing their masks, so shopping small is doable if we just take our precautions.”
Holly Niemi of Holly’s Stitches and Crafts said her business also participated in the Chamber’s Scratch ‘n Win promotion. One of her customers won $25 in Rugby Bucks from a card Nov. 28.
The smell of cinnamon welcomed visitors to Niemi’s store on Small Business Saturday. Niemi offered hot spiced cider and mini cupcakes near the front register that day.
“We have some craft items and sewing notions and yarns,” Niemi said of the items promoted for the weekend. “For me, our best sellers are always the same. People are making Christmas gifts, so I have to have stuff for handmade items for Christmas – yarn and fabrics and notions.”
“It’s always fun,” she added, “We get to visit with customers and see what they’re making, or they’ll show me pictures of what they’ve made.”
Niemi said Holly’s Stitches and Crafts offers gifts for crafters of all ages. “I have some puzzles; I have some craft kits and paintables. I have Christmas stocking stuffers. Those are things for kids to paint and decorate and hang from the tree or give as gifts – teacher gifts or grandma and grandpa gifts,” she noted.
Holly’s Stitches and Crafts also carries consignment craft items, including a collection of Rugby High School Panther magnets. “I have several ladies who sell on consignment,” Niemi said. “I have Rose Jacobson, who makes little gift bags. I have wood wall plaques; they’re done by Rose’s sister,” she added.
Niemi said she planned to stay open late Nov. 28 and take in the Rugby Parade of Lights. “I have plenty to do,” she said, pointing to a store window she was decorating.
Next door to Holly’s Stitches and Crafts, Taylor Sager of This ‘N That talked with customers browsing his store’s selection of antiques and second-hand clothing.
“It wasn’t too bad,” Sager said of customer flow to his store over the weekend. “We had a steady flow of traffic and it seemed like everyone who came in was in a shopping mood. We had a lot of lookers last year. This year, people who did come in were here to buy, not just to browse. So, it was good.”
The store’s unique inventory of consignment and vintage items sits on shelves, walls and display cases throughout the store. The hardwood floor provides lots of space for browsers to walk around and stay socially distanced. One item, a uniquely framed antique photo of a boy in a sailor suit, hangs on the wall near the register.
“That would be from the 1920s,” Sager said of the photo of the boy, who wears a sash on his suit that says “Boy Scout.” “The frame is where the value is,” Sager said. “These frames are called ‘bubble frames’ and they were made between 1913 and 1923. They quit making them because the glass was so expensive to make and it was so thin, anytime it was transported, it would shatter,” Sager explained. “The photo is cool, too,” he added. “That’s somebody’s great-grandpa.”
This ‘N That also has shelves and cases displaying antique containers and promotional items given away by companies such as Rugby Farmers Union Elevator in days gone by.
One ceramic set of two pitchers and a bowl painted with matching red apple motifs from elevators in Rugby and Martin sit across from paint sticks advising, “Call your local Montgomery Ward Store.”
The store also has a shelf of VHS movies, a box of vinyl LP record albums and a wall of second-hand clothing. Near the vinyl records sit an old cast-iron stove and a metal washtub filled with skeleton keys. A stack of suitcases stands against the wall near the front door.
“People do amazing stuff with these,” Sager said of the suitcases. “They take Grandma’s old suitcase that looks cool but doesn’t really have a purpose and isn’t being used for travel anymore, and you use it for decor.” Sager showed photos of trunks and suitcases repurposed into end tables and furniture.
Two bench seats from the original interior of Rugby’s Lyric Theater face the store’s front door. “These sell for $100 for the set,” Sager said. A photo of the theater’s interior from decades ago hangs on the back of one of the seats.
“Lots of memories were made in those, I’m sure,” Sager smiled.
Across the street and on the opposite corner from This ‘N That and Holly’s Stitches and Crafts, Main Street Boutique saw plenty of visitors as well.
“I’d say it’s been going great,” Ashley Berg, Main Street Boutique’s owner said. “They’re always supportive in Rugby and the weather always helps when it’s beautiful outside. Everyone’s kind of itching to get their holiday shopping started and support the town.”
Berg added, “I have specials on decor, jewelry, purses, Liverpool jackets and jeans. The sales have been good as well. It’s nice to see people come in and look around. They’re getting excited, and talking to them today, I hear they’re coming out for the parade tonight.”
One solitary nutcracker sits outside of Main Street Boutique. His partner has been missing since Nov. 7. Berg posted messages on social media offering rewards for the nutcracker’s return, but she said she’s received no clues about the decoration’s whereabouts.
“I’ve kind of given up on him,” Berg said with a rueful laugh.
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