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How Bloomington small businesses prepare for holiday shopping



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T.I.S. College Bookstore lays out a spread in preparation for the holiday season. T.I.S. will be offering a free T-shirt on orders over $50 on Black Friday, Nov. 23, and Nov. 24. Andrew Williams Buy Photos

As the weather cools, holiday shopping heats up. Businesses are  preparing for the rush of holiday shoppers who will descend upon the stores soon with Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and other holiday events. 

For The Game Preserve, a puzzle and game shop, Black Friday is undoubtedly the busiest day for them, store manager Tyler Kay said.

“Our Black Friday sale is insane,” Kay said. “It’s the most staff we have in store on any given day.” 

He said many people come in wanting to buy a game or puzzle to play as a family over the holidays. Also, he said he feels it’s a good gift that doesn’t involve a computer. 

“You get a lot of parents and grandparents who want to get their kids off technology, so they like the idea of getting them a board game so they can play with them,” he said. 

For Landlocked Music, which sells vinyls, CDs and more, Black Friday is its second busiest day because of special music releases that happen that day. The only busier day is National Record Shop Day in April. 

“It's definitely a busy time of year and it stays busy through Christmas,” owner Jason Nickey said. 

Cup and Kettle Tea Company owner Jessica Messmer said it start getting its holiday rush after it has a booth at the Bloomington handmade market  Nov. 10. 

“Especially with the colder weather, we begin to see increased traffic and increased sales,” Messmer said. 

Owner Amanda Franklin said Cactus Flower Clothing is busiest at the beginning of the fall as people need and want to buy warmer clothes. The holidays are the second busiest time for her business. 

These businesses do various things to prepare and accommodate the increased traffic. 

For Cup and Kettle, Messmer said it’s all hands on deck. 

“And if it's too crazy, we’ll have family members come in and help,” she said. 

Manager Tim Lloyd said The Indiana Shop just uses  the employees they already have because they hired a lot when school started in August. 

Nickey said being a small shop, Landlocked Music does not hire extra help but all the employees have to work more. 

Franklin said Cactus Flower Clothing doesn’t hire extra help because its training process is a couple months and that's too long to just hire people for a season. 

In the past, they have called former employees in to help as “subs,” she said.

Even though Black Friday season means more customer traffic, the growing popularity of Cyber Monday has been affecting brick and mortar store fronts. 

For Cup and Kettle Tea Company, Cyber Monday is not an issue as it still has an online store and the day offers more sales for them. 

Nickey said he doesn’t think the rising popularity in Cyber Monday has affected his business as they cater to different people. 

“People come in here and price compare all the time and I encourage it because our prices are really good and also people like to browse,” Nickey said. “That’s what a place like this is good for, just exploring and seeing what things jump out at you.” 

Kay said the Game Preserve is affected by Cyber Monday deals on games, but there are upsides to coming into a game store versus buying online. 

Employees there are required to learn the rules to the most popular games each year so they are able to teach customers about them. Also, they are able to recommend games better than the internet if a customer is looking for something specific.

Franklin said Cactus Flower Clothing has been affected by the increase in Cyber Monday shopping, but a good thing about buying clothing in person is the customer can feel the clothing and also try it on to ensure it will fit. 

Franklin said she tries to stress the importance of shopping locally versus online. 

“If they don’t shop at small businesses, they go away,” Franklin said. 

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