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It’s not just the Targets and Best Buys that saw vigorous sales this past weekend. Local small merchants are reporting soaring success. While the official word is that sales across the country were up 16 percent from last year, some shops in Baltimore fared even better. Sassanova, a women’s shoe, clothing and accessory boutique in Harbor East did booming business. “We had about a fifty percent increase over last year,” store manager Carolyn Wagner tells us.
Traffic at Harbor East seems to be on the rise as the downtown space gains more recognition. A sell-out at the newly opened Four Seasons — thanks to specially discounted grand opening rates — also kept the streets bustling with people, as did unseasonably warm weather, movie openings and the holiday.
At serene Cross Keys, Ruth Shaw also reported a doubling of sales. “It didn’t start until about 2:30 in the afternoon,” said store owner Ray Mitchener of his high-end women’s clothing boutique, “but then we had a great day.”
The one-two punch of Black Friday followed by American Express Small Business Saturday seemed to help retailers pack people into the stores. Sima Blue, owner of specialty shop and women’s boutique Trillium in Green Spring Station, said she noticed heavy traffic on Friday, but her sales were bigger on Saturday. Still, sales for the weekend were about the same as last year but, “overall we are way ahead of last year.”
Despite the ease of online shopping, locals seem to like the instant gratification that comes with going into the stores, talking to an actual human being, and feeling and seeing the merchandise. Likely, too, they happily shop live and local out of a sense of civic responsibility. Said one Baltimore shopper who braved the crowds on Saturday and Sunday, “We make a point to shop local; we don’t go to the mall.”
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