Old Town sees after Christmas rush

Erin Riley, owner of Old Town Stained Glass, solders a frame on a sun catcher outside her shop in Winchester on Friday. Riley said because the weather was nice, she decided to work outside, which increased interest from passing shoppers. Photo by Henry Culvyhouse

WINCHESTER — Christmas had come and gone, but the shopping sprees continued Friday.

The day after Christmas is considered one of the largest shopping days of the year, with stores expecting $65 billion in returns, accounting for one quarter of all holiday spending, the National Retail Association estimates. While a lot of the action happened at the mall, large retail chains such as Target, Walmart and Kohl’s, many small businesses in the area saw their fair share of business as well.

Stephen Shendow, a clothier at Bell’s Men’s & Ladies’ Fine Clothing at 122 N. Loudoun St. said his shop has always done great business the day after Christmas.

“It’s not necessarily people coming in to buy new things, but it’s usually them bringing things they got to be fitted in or exchanged for other things,” Shendow said. “They might need a jacket sleeve shortened or a pair of pants hemmed in.”

Shendow said his story has a flexible policy for returns.

“I can do anything, as long as they have the receipt,” Shendow said. “We’re customer friendly. I can cash out the item, I can do a gift certificate they can use in the store, or I can exchange it for another item.”

Shendow said from the store’s perspective, exchanges and store credit are best. However, keeping customers happy is what matters more.

“Sure, cashing it out means we eat the cost,” Shendow said. “But we want to keep the customer happy. It’s more important to retain the customer for the long term.”

Shendow said this post-Christmas shopping bonanza is “typical.” However, its success is dependent on a variety of factors.

“It depends on what day Christmas falls on,” Shendow said. “Depending on where it falls on the calendar, people might have to leave town on the 26th or they might stay. This year, people have extended vacations, so we’re having more people come into the store.”

Across the street, at Old Town Stained Glass at 161 N. Loudoun St., Erin Riley, the owner, said business was booming on account of the weather.

“I think it’s been about the same as last year, but I think we’ve been having a lot more foot traffic because of how beautiful it is,” Riley said. “We’ve been having a lot new shoppers coming in to spend Christmas money.”

Riley said her shop does exchanges and store credit, but does not offer a cash refund.

“I wouldn’t do it any other way,” Riley said. “I need to manage my costs, so this is the approach I’ve taken.”

Down the street at Murphy’s Beverage Company, a wine shop, owner Charley Fish ran her 17th annual after Christmas sale. Fish said a combination of weather and tradition packed shoppers into the store.

“We always do an after Christmas sale, so people are kind of aware of it,” Fish said. “Plus it’s beautiful out, gorgeous, it’s packed out on the mall, so I think that really helped.”

Fish said her shop expected to top last year’s sales.

“Last year, we ran the sale on a Thursday, so a lot of people had returned to work,” Fish said.

Fish said she is open to providing a credit for returns at her store, but the wine needs to be intact.

“They can’t open it and return it because they didn’t like it,” Fish said. “But I want my customers to be happy, so if they bring in a bottle of wine they know they won’t like, I’m happy to give them the credit.”

Not every retailer was happy with the Old Town rush. Ton Coberly, owner of Blind Faith Enterprises, a new and used guitar shop, said the constant foot traffic kept distracting him from preparing his store for a final liquidation sale next week.

“I’m trying to get stuff done that I haven’t even gotten a moment to finish on my repairs here,” Coberly said. “I’m going out of business on Wednesday, so we’re just trying to get rid of it all.”

Coberly continued, “So no returns, no credit, no exchanges. It’s all got to go. I’ve been doing this for 22 years. The owner is selling the building and so I decided to retire. Since ’08, I’ve been losing money steadily.”

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