Strong Christmas has merchants hopeful

First Posted: 1/7/2015

PILOT MOUNTAIN — For many businesses, the Christmas sales season has always been the most important time of the year and a barometer for things to come. And if recent comments from a trio of Pilot Mountain businesses are an indication, 2015 already might be a shaping up as a good year for the local economy.

“Christmas was very good for us,” said Connie Hall, owner of Connie’s Crafts and Supplies at 116 W. Main St. “We were busy through Christmas Eve.”

Hall said sales fared well for items throughout the small store’s diverse inventory, with paintings, purses and sterling silver jewelry posting particularly strong showings.

“People seemed to be spending more freely this year,” she added. “A lot of the people who had found us during the car shows came back to see us and buy from us.”

Family Dollar Manager Brenda Bowman was equally enthusiastic about the Key Street variety store’s holiday sales.

“We had a great Christmas,” she said, “with our sales up over last year’s. Christmas can make you or break you and it definitely helped us to have a good year.”

Bowman also pointed to the reopening of the Key Street/N.C. 268 bridge at the end of October as a prime ingredient for a surge in Christmas sales.

“The bridge opening came at a good time for us,” she said. “You could tell a big difference once it was reopened.”

Cheryl Johnson, a Family Dollar customer who lives on the Shoals community side of N.C. 268, agreed.

“The bridge being closed was terrible for those of us who lived on that side,” she said. “We felt like we were separated from Pilot Mountain.

“When it reopened,” Johnson continued, “it helped us to be able to shop local. And that’s something I make every effort to do. This is my town and it has everything you could need right here.”

Donna Chilton, owner of Mount Pilot Country Store on Main Street, also pointed to the bridge closing as having had a negative impact on summer sales.

“With that and the rain at some of the car shows,” she noted, “we had been struggling through a tough year. But Christmas was awesome for us. It was great from the time the bridge opened through November and December.

“The holidays were definitely up from last year,” Chilton added. “People came in looking for unique gifts and Christmas items. We’re so thankful for our regular customers and the ones who traveled to get here.”

Chilton expressed hope that the strong holiday season will continue into the new year, marking a rebound from 2014’s early doldrums.

“Last year was our first year since we’ve been here,” she said, “when we didn’t do better than the year before. But with the bridge open again, we’re hoping to be back on track. We’re hoping for a good year.”

Bowman also voiced high expectations for Family Dollar in 2015.

“We’re already off to a good start,” she said. “I believe this is going to be a good year for us.”

Hall also pointed to a fast start at Connie’s Crafts and Supplies as a reason for optimism in looking forward to the coming months.

“We’re off to a good start to the year,” she said. “People are looking for good deals and they’re willing to buy. I think it’s going to be a really good year.”

Dean Palmer may be reached at 336-351-4131 or [email protected]

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