March 20 • 07:54 AM

Retailers hold outhope for holidays

November 19, 2008
IMLAY CITY — Despite predictions that retail stores will find tough sledding this holiday season, some local business owners remain upbeat—or at least hopeful.

Dave Hunkins, owner of the Imlay City RadioShack store in the Kroger Plaza on Van Dyke, says he's well-stocked for the season and ready for an influx of customers.

"There's some uncertainty out there," admits Hunkins, "especially with what's going on in Michigan and with the Big 3 (automakers).

"We didn't cut back," he says. "I think people will still get out and buy, although they might not spend as much as in the past."

Hunkins, who owns another RadioShack in Vassar, is confident he won't be left with an overflow of inventory after the Christmas crunch.

"We track what we did in previous years and we consider the trends in the market," says Hunkins. "It's always a bit of a gamble, but we're usually able to move whatever we order."

A shorter retail season

Dave Hunkins, owner of the Imlay City RadioShack, is optimistic that sales of electronics and children’s toys will remain strong this season. photo by Tom Wearing.
Hunkins notes that retailers will have a smaller window for holiday sales this year, because of the relative lateness of Thanksgiving. Like many retail stores, he says Christmas typically represents about 30 percent of the store's annual sales.

"Things usually take off right after Thanksgiving," he says. "With the holiday coming late this year, we only have about three-and-a-half weeks to make up."

Hunkins says he anticipates that perennial RadioShack favorites such as remote control toys, MP3 players and GPS units will sell well, along with LCD televisions which could enjoy a splurge because of the digital change that takes place in February.

Building slump hurts

Splurges are not likely at Mortimer Lumber in Imlay City, where assistant manager Ed Draper says the housing market and deteriorating economy have been eating into profits for some time.

Still, Draper is hopeful that the holiday season will reap some rewards in the way of sales of power tools, heaters, Carhartt products and remodeling materials and equipment.

"I would hope for a good selling season," says Draper, "but my instincts tell me it's gonna' be pretty soft this year. I think it's going to be a flat season for everyone."

Draper envisions that, at least in the forseeable future, the building trades will rely less on new construction and more on remodeling projects.

"We have been doing fairly well with pole buildings this year," he says, "because some areas of agriculture had good years. But with all the home foreclosures and lack of new building, I think contractors are going to find themselves focusing a lot more on remodeling."

Strike a holiday pose

Photographer Steven Teets, owner of Focus Studio in downtown Imlay City, is offering holiday portraits on Sunday, Nov. 23, as a way to attract business and celebrate the season.

From noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Teets will offer families or individuals a pair of 4x5 portraits at a bargain price. No appointments are necessary.

As a backdrop for the portraits, he's decked the studio halls for the season, complete with a giant Christmas tree topped by a classic image of Santa. All children will receive candy canes.

"The portraits will be ready in time for gift giving or holiday Christmas cards," says Teets, who adds that the number of people coming in for portraits is down from previous years.

"We hope that people realize that nothing can replace the value of true professional portraits in a professional setting," he says.

Teets says if customers are unable to attend on Sunday, appointments can be made during the remainder of November, by calling the studio at 810-724-6552.

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