BERLIN – “Amazing.”
That’s how Connie Mayers, owner of Main Street Sweets, describes the first official weekend of holiday shopping in Berlin. And she’s not the only one.
Merchants throughout the town had nothing but good things to say following Black Friday and Small Business Saturday in “America’s Coolest Small Town.”
“It was packed,” said Debbie Frene, owner of Victorian Charm. “Berlin was overflowing.”
Shop owners in Berlin said they stayed busy from the time they opened Friday through the weekend. Holiday Arts Night on Friday evening, which included the town’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony, kept some stores open as late as 10 p.m.
“That’s always a popular event in Berlin,” Frene said.
Meyers agreed and said the added attractions to this year’s event, including carriage rides and an ice sculptor, seemed to draw in even more visitors than usual.
“It was something to watch,” she said. “Something created right in front of their eyes. It added a magical dimension to Holiday Arts Night.”
Mayers, who is entering her third holiday shopping season in Berlin, is hoping this will be the most successful yet. While she’s not sure if the increased business is due to Berlin’s designation by Budget Travel as America’s Coolest Small Town or not, she’s optimistic it will continue. She says the holiday cheer in Berlin is contagious.
“Everyone is just so happy the season is here,” she said.
Terri Sexton, owner of the Treasure Chest, said she noticed that interest in Small Business Saturday — the national effort to encourage people to shop locally — had increased since it started in 2010.
“I think people are showing support for small businesses,” she said, adding that her jewelry store had been particularly busy Saturday.
Ivy Wells, the town’s new economic development director, said she had also noticed the attention local businesses received Saturday. Some stores experienced their busiest days ever, she said. Staff members at Cupcakes in Bloom, for example, sold so many cupcakes they ran out.
“It was a great weekend and really showed how the public came out to shop local,” Wells said.
Cesar Raygada, one of the owners of Inca Ruins on Pitts Street, said he was thrilled with the business the store did after Thanksgiving.
“It was really good,” he said, adding that numerous people visited the shop only to return later in the weekend with friends and family members in tow.
Although this is his first December in Berlin, Raygada knows it’s the town’s busiest time of year and plans to make the most of it.
“We’re open every day until Christmas,” he said.
Most of the town’s shops offer expanded hours during the holiday season, whether they are advertised or not.
“We stay open as late as we need to,” Frene said. “As long as there are people in town we’re here.”