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St. Lawrence County merchants say Christmas shopping up this season

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Christmas may be over, but the holiday shopping did not stop until the last minute, and St. Lawrence County’s small businesses reaped the benefits.

“It started out a bit slowly, but it has been a good season the last week and a half,” said Marilyn L. Mintener, owner of the Pear Tree gift shop, 77 Main St., Canton.

“I’m really pleased with the support we have had throughout the county,” she said.

At Mare’s Wares, 3938 State Highway 37, Morristown, Christmas trees sold out by Dec. 8, the earliest ever.

Owner Mary Ann Evans attributed the spike in business to the growing popularity of her annual arts festival, which is held behind the store every summer.

“I run the arts fest every year, and I get a lot of people realizing what I do here,” she said.

Business took a hit during the typically busy weekend before Christmas because the ice storm prevented shoppers from leaving their homes.

“My weekend sales were dramatically cut down,” Ms. Evans said. However, business has still been better than ever despite the storm, she said.

The Pear Tree was also affected by the bad weather, but Ms. Mintener said the storm led to an especially busy Christmas Eve.

“They made up for it today, trust me,” she said Tuesday. “They knew they had to get out, the sun was shining, and people were really getting in the spirit.”

Christmas shopping was sluggish nationally. Customers spent about $1.7 billion less during November’s Black Friday weekend than in 2012, according to The New York Times. Yet small businesses in St. Lawrence County reported no such problems.

“We’ve been very, very busy; people are very happy,” said Pamela S. Hazen, owner of Isle of You at 17 Market St., Potsdam.

“The last two days have been crazy,” she said on Christmas Eve. “It’s a little better than last year, actually.”

Ms. Hazen attributes this success to customers’ tiring of major retail chains and preferring to shop locally.

“It’s definitely not a big-box store, and that’s why we’re doing so well. People are over the big box,” she said.

Deidra M. Peets, owner of Dee’s Crafts at 284 Carey Road, Massena, reported a similarly successful year.

“I did amazing; I did really well,” she said.

Ms. Peets sells mostly hand-made wood crafts, and says the busy season has been about the same as the last few years.

“The last few years have been really good,” she said.

Business owners said the Christmas shopping season is a make-or-break time for many stores going into the typically slow winter months.

“It matters tremendously,” Ms. Mintener said. “You need to be doing well this season, because you’ve tied your money up in a lot of Christmas merchandise.”

“It’s everything, really,” Ms. Evans said. “It gets me through the whole winter.”

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