Christmas shopping begins in earnest

Staff photo by Clay Schuldt Sharon Hubly was one of three Inspired employees working hard to create floral arrangements on Small Business Saturday.

NEW ULM — With Thanksgiving over, Christmas shopping began in earnest this weekend. Black Friday shopping brought many out of towners to downtown New Ulm and on Small Business Saturday the locals showed their support.

Local shops experience a noticeable spike in customers on Friday and Saturday. Several early-bird shoppers got started on Thursday. After Thanksgiving dinner, shoppers lined up at Wal-mart for special sales that started at 6 p.m. Everything from televisions to fitted sheets were on sale.

Downtown businesses cited crowded shops on Friday. Several store owners commented that on Black Friday they saw new faces in the shop. The customers were from out of town.

Saturday, shopping started slowly. Most waited until the noon hour to begin shopping. The rain and sleet began falling Friday night, which caused some shoppers to hesitate. However, since no snow accumulated, shoppers were encouraged to brave the weather for holiday deals.

“We appreciate those who weathered the storm,” Sandy Reinke of Bailey Creek Boutique. Her shop saw a nice line of customers over the weekend with local shoppers coming in on Saturday.

“It has been locals Saturday and out of towners Friday,” Reinke said.

The big selling items were cold-weather apparel. The headbands and mittens sold well.

Gallery 512 also saw steady business from local shoppers. Co-owner Jessica Fischer said the popular gift items were the stocking stuffers like bath bombs. Sota Clothing continues to be Gallery 512’s top seller.

Inspired had a steady flow of customers on Friday and Saturday. The holiday items were selling well, but the clothing department saw an increase in cold-weather accessories. The recent snow inspired customers to purchase new hats, scarves, and socks.

Occasional store No. 213 was open on Saturday. Owner Stephanie Surdy said the Christmas decorations sold well. She said the snowy weather did slow down shopping at first, but it did put everyone in the holiday mood.

Downtown Minnesota Street’s latest shop, Bumbelou, had a steady crowd. Employee Gabi Rolloff said the Christmas dresses were extremely popular. The dresses were for ages zero to seven and were made locally in Mankato.

Jewelry is a popular Christmas gift and Patterson’s Diamond Center experienced a Christmas rush. Employee Helen Reiser said engagement rings are in focus this time of year. There is also a trend for rose gold jewelry.

Reiser said a popular low-cost gift item is the Minnesota pendants. These pendants are cut in the shape of Minnesota. They can be made from sterling silver or gold.

Guten Tag Haus also saw an uptick in holiday shopping over the weekend. For many, the gift shop is a traditional shopping location. Alvin and Cindy Stabenow said they can anticipate seeing certain customers come in to purchase a new nutcracker.

Cindy said each year they make sure to get new Nutcracker designs for the collectors.

The German Christmas Smokers are also popular collection items. These smokers are designed for releasing incense and are unique to Guten Tag Haus.

Alvin said glass ornaments were always strong sellers. Many of the ornaments are handcrafted from Germany.

Cindy Stabenow said children’s’ books were another popular seller. Grandparents liked to buy books for their kids. The store did sell out of “Frozen” merchandise by the afternoon.

This weekend was also an opportunity for children to meet Santa Clause. Chris Kringle was at the New Ulm Event Center Saturday reading children stories during a Craft and Vendor event.

As children talked with Santa, parents were able to view the craft tables. Frank and Karen Pehle brought a collection of old fashioned wooden toys. The toys came in the shape of trucks, airplanes, and even a large crane.

Frank said it was a simple system. The children come through and point out which toy they like and later mom and dad come back to buy it as a gift.

Some of the craft vendors were giving back to the community. Gwen Mack was selling therapeutic bags to benefit local oncology departments. Mack said the proceeds from the bags went to purchase special lemon drops for oncology patients.

Mack said cancer treatments can leave patients with a dry mouth and a metallic taste in their mouths. Special lemon drops alleviate this problem but can be expensive. Her bags help raise money to donate these drops.

Santa would make another appearance at A to Zinnia Gifts and Floral on Sunday. A line up of 30 kids attended to tell Santa their Christmas wishes.

Santa said the kids have been good this year. He spoke with over 200 kids on Friday at Citizen’s Bank and dozens since then.

Santa said the top gift request this year was Legos, Barbie, Transformers, Paw Patrol and art supplies. Santa said his next stop in New Ulm will be Thursday at Nuvera.