Christmas shopping in New Market a mixed bag, retailers say

Tony Suarez, owner of the Christmas Gallery, straightens his wares on a cold, rainy December afternoon. Suarez has been in business since 1977. Henry Culvyhouse/Daily

NEW MARKET–The Town of New Market invited area businesses to hold open houses for their customers on Saturday as part of the town’s holiday celebration. The unrelenting rain may have kept some Christmas shoppers away.

John Peters, a sales associate at M and M Musical Instrument Service, said this year’s Christmas time rush “isn’t what it used to be.”

“Some people, they don’t come in and buy the whole kit and caboodle like they used to,” Peters said. “They might only get a guitar and hold off on getting the cases or the straps and things.”

Tommy Heppner, owner of The Old General Store, a candy store and gift shop, said his business has improved during this Christmas season.

“Business picks up around this time of year,” Heppner said. “A lot of people buy candy and gift items, a lot of LED lighted pictures.”

Judith DeLaughter, owner of The Gingham Cottage Gift Shop, a retailer of local artwork and crafts, said this December has been “slow.”

“It’s been about seven or eight years since businesses has been what I consider good,” DeLaughter said. “I mean you get by, but it’s nothing extraordinary.”

Next door, Cathy Donald, owner of Valley Sports Connection, a sportswear and equipment outfitter, echoed DeLaughter.

“It’s slow,” Donald said. “About a week or two before Christmas is when people start coming into the store, after they’re done shopping at the big stores.”

Down the street, Tony Suarez, owner of The Christmas Gallery, said business has ebbed and flowed since the recession.

“It hasn’t bounced back the way people think it has,” Suarez said. “We get a lot of customers coming down from Northern Virginia and Luray to buy Christmas ornaments this time of year. Our Downton Abbey collection is a pretty big hit.”

A couple of storefronts over, Karla Kokkonen, owner of The Home Store, a furniture store, said this time of year generally treats her well.

“We sell a lot of recliners this time of year,” Kokkonen said. “We deliver on Christmas Eve, because you really can’t wrap a recliner and stick it under the tree. It is kind of neat to walk in and really surprise somebody.”

As it turns out, one New Market’s biggest attractions, the Civil War, does not do well this time of the year, according to Roy Muller, owner of Shop Civil War.

“We get our biggest bump during the summer time,” Muller said. “That’s when people want to come out and see the battlefields.”

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Contact staff writer Henry Culvyhouse at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or hculvyhouse@nvdaily.com