Shoppers descend on downtown New Ulm over weekend

Staff photos by Clay Schuldt Downtown Minnesota Street had heavy foot traffic for Shop Small Saturday. The 45-degree temperatures made for a comfortable shopping experience.

NEW ULM — With Thanksgiving behind us the Christmas season is in full swing and this means downtown New Ulm was packed with shoppers.

The Friday after Thanksgiving, commonly referred to as Black Friday, is widely cited a the busiest shopping day of the year and many downtown businesses would agree.

Herberger’s sales began to spike on Thursday. A gift card giveaway on Thanksgiving had customers lining up around the block.

This year, Herberger’s top selling item was the Instant Pot, a programable pressure cooker.

Manager Julie Piotter said Thanksgiving and Black Friday are typically their biggest sales day and that was true this year as well. While no official sales figures have been posted, Piotter suspected the numbers would be similar with last year.

Customer traffic at Herberger’s slowed down on Saturday as small businesses became the focus, but foot traffic remained relatively high.

In past years Lambrecht’s was one of the busiest holiday stores and now it successor, Inspired, has taken on this privilege. The store saw a steady stream of business on Friday and Saturday,

“We were busy from 9 a.m. to close,” owner Christina Schwab said. The store remained open until 8 p.m. on Friday which resulted in a huge rush after the parade of lights.

Schwab said children’s books were a popular gift item this year. “They are buying them by the handful.”

Christmas ornaments also remain popular. Former Lambrecht’s owner Curt Lambrecht made a surprise stop in the store on Saturday to get a few decorations.

The shopping excitement was not limited to Black Friday. Small Business Saturday has been gaining popularity in New Ulm. This year 22 local businesses participated in the special promotion. A Welcome Station was setup at the Chamber of Commerce to direct shoppers to the best deals and visitors were given a free tote bag.

Chamber Retail Service Specialist Cara Knauf said the Chamber there was a huge rush when they opened their doors Saturday morning. The rush lasted through the noon hours. For some downtown shops Saturday was bigger day than Friday.

Small Business Saturday was the biggest day for Gallery 512. Owner Jessica Fischer said Small Business Saturday is usually the boutique’s busiest day of the year. The special incentives encourage customers to come on Saturday. Fischer said about half the people shopping at Gallery 512 are buying Christmas gifts. The other half is buying for themselves. It’s a good time of year to acquire a winter wardrobe.

No. 213 celebrated its one year anniversary at its new locations Saturday. The store moved from south Minnesota Street to North Minnesota last year.

Theresa Wager said the change of location has increased their visibility. The occasional store saw a steady stream of customers all day.

Bailey Creek is another new business, having opened last June. The new boutique was packed on Friday. Sarah Sveine said there was no downtime for employees on Friday. The shop sold a lot of mittens, despite the warm weather. The mittens were designed to resemble hedgehogs or foxes. The coffee products also sold well as stocking stuffers.

Several shoppers cited the nice weather as a reason to get out and shop. New Ulm was treated to sunshine on Friday and Saturday, which led to record breaking temperatures. Temperatures reached as high as 62-degrees on Friday which was nine degrees higher than the previous record set in 1984. Temperatures hung around 45-degrees on Saturday, which was the same temperature during the 2016 Small Business Saturday event.

The small business promotions end Sunday, but there are still plenty of shopping days until Christmas and the downtown businesses will continue to promote seasonal sales.

Those looking to relax from shopping were able to treat themselves to a glass of wine. The new wine bar at the old Pub & Patio location held a soft opening Saturday afternoon. The owner is holding off on a grand opening until spring when the patio portion can be put to full use.