Mason stores ho-ho-hope for a holiday rush

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Several stores in downtown Mason prepare for the busy holiday season after Thanksgiving weekend. The community has been very supportive and involved in the businesses within Mason.

Kean’s is a Hallmark store that offers seasonal and year-round cards, gifts, home décor, ornaments, personalized trinkets and much more. Christmas and popular fabrics sell more during the summer due to the amount of time it takes to make a project. Laurie Reed, store manager, likes to be a season ahead in the fabric department. Candy is a huge sales component of the store along with jewelry, toys and Christmas ornaments.20161207_161245_1481152738475_resized

“It’s my go to place for last-minute gift shopping,” said Deborah Stuart, Mason City Administrator.

The popular downtown store has been in Mason since the 1920s, but was closed for about six months last year due to a fire at a neighboring restaurant on Father’s Day. Kean’s reopened on Dec. 5, 2015. The Mason High School varsity football team and the whole community supported the reopening.

“We have our busy times on weekends, but nothing compares to when we reopened last year before Christmas,” said Laurie Reed, Kean’s manager. “We just had the one-year anniversary sale on Monday.”

Maple Street Mall is a three-story building with antiques, handmade products, specialty items and more. Sixty vendors are in this family run business.

“We have great priced items and a lot of loyal customers who do holiday shopping here,” said Teresa Bates, assistant manager at Maple Street Mall. “Friday (Dec. 2) in Mason was a downtown festivity where they lit up the Christmas tree in the courtyard, so there was a lot going on and a lot of people out and about.”

Vendors at the Maple Street Mall independently mark the price of their items, so the store does not offer holiday specials. There is an end-of-the-year clearance period between Christmas and New Year’s every year.

“My theory is people will come out this weekend for ‘cookie weekend’, but recently the weather has been nice so less people are coming in,” said Debbie Shattuck, Maple Street Mall store manager. “We are lucky because we don’t have competition with big-box stores since it is a completely different shopping experience.”

Sports Stop Sportswear used mostly Facebook for advertising the hours and deals for the holiday season. The shop recently joined the online shopping world, so now customers don’t have to visit the store to purchase business apparel, team uniforms or embroidered items. Banners, signs and awards (trophies, medals and more) are also available.

“The holiday specials are currently being decided between owners,” said Amanda Stary, Sports Stop employee. “A good amount of sales went on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday.”

Like Sports Stop, Mason Floral has its own website displaying their special arrangements and bouquets. Gift certificates are available, but since they are not a big seller, owner Tammy Weber uses them as donations.

A new trend that the Mason Floral employees noticed is that grave blankets are selling more than wreaths this year.

“The holiday season is always busier,” said Weber. “Men have been our biggest customers, and they just tell us how much they are looking to spend and the colors they would like.”

“The best sellers and newer novels have been going quickly, but we haven’t seen any big enough trends to change our product orders,” said Holly Wilkes, Vault Deli employee. “A lot of people come in to order books from us because they would rather buy from us instead of other bookstores.”

20161207_163527_1481152737407_resizedThe Vault Deli seems to be a little busier this holiday season selling Christmas list books, novels and young adult books. Currently a commercial is running to bring customers into this cafe bookstore.

“Based on studies of local independent business, it is estimated that every dollar you spend returns three times more money to the local community than if you spent it on a chain in the same community,” said Stuart. “If you compare to a big-box the estimate grows to 50 times more.”

“Mason is successful due to our unique combination of locally owned businesses and we are focused on continuing to grow that model by targeting our recruitment on those types of businesses,” said Stuart. “We know this because several studies have shown that when people spend locally the dollar stays in the community- that business busy from local service providers and it continues to strengthen the economic base of our community.”

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