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Saturday, March 2, 2024
March 2, 2024

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Holiday shopping season critical to Clark County’s small businesses

They strive to inform consumers about importance of spending dollars locally

By , Columbian staff writer
5 Photos
Owner Ratany Ouk decorates the exterior of her shop Ratany Bloom at 1911 Main St. in Vancouver&rsquo;s Uptown Village. A recent survey shows three quarters of small retailers rely heavily on holiday shoppers.
Owner Ratany Ouk decorates the exterior of her shop Ratany Bloom at 1911 Main St. in Vancouver’s Uptown Village. A recent survey shows three quarters of small retailers rely heavily on holiday shoppers. (Taylor Balkom/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Clark County’s retailers are just starting their busy season, a time that is critically important to small retailers nationwide. Still, a new survey shows consumers may not be aware of how beneficial it is to small businesses when consumers spend their dollars locally.

“This is a critical time of year for us,” said Leah Pickering, owner of Kazoodles Toys in east Vancouver. “This is our launching pad to remain until the next Christmas.”

In fact, 73 percent of small retailers said at least a quarter of their annual revenue comes from holiday shoppers, according to a recent survey from marketing company Constant Contact.

Constant Contact also surveyed consumers. Only a third of them recognized the importance of holiday shopping for a small business.

Laura Goldberg, chief marketing officer at Constant Contact, said this was the most surprising element of the survey’s results.

Goldberg said that consumers don’t recognize how much spending $20 or $50 or $100 at a small retailer will matter to that business.

“But it does,” she said. “It adds up, and I think that’s really the disconnect.”

Those transactions are vital for small retailers, Goldberg said.

Holiday importance

This is the second holiday season for Copper Bell Bookshop, located at 4315 Settler Drive, Suite 110, in Ridgefield.

Founder Debra Warnock hopes for a good December.

“Christmas is super important because it gives us a buffer,” Warnock said.

She doesn’t expect sales to be quite double a normal month. But the extra revenue will give her business a cushion during the months when sales are slow.

Many small retailers offered Black Friday and Small Business Saturday deals for customers. Copper Bell will have a 12 Days of Christmas sale starting in early December.

For Kazoodles Toys, 13503 S.E. Mill Plain Blvd., the holidays are the busiest time of the year. A Vancouver mainstay for nearly 20 years, the shop sells toys, board games and activities for kids of all ages.

“It’s the ‘make it or break it’ time of our business,” Pickering said. “Anything that happens during the holiday season just sets us up for what we can accomplish the rest of the year.”

“It’s super important to us that we execute everything as well as we can, as far as sales and stock and staffing,” Pickering said.

Retailer preparation

Retailers start preparing months in advance for the holiday shopping season.

Pickering starts planning and testing products for Kazoodles as early as May. Warnock’s home becomes storage for her holiday book order.

In downtown Vancouver, Ratany Bloom at 1911 Main St., is full of not just holiday-themed plants, such as Christmas cacti or hand-crafted moss art, it’s also home to a lot of plant-themed gifts, such as mushroom ornaments.

As a florist, the holiday season is often a busy time for owner Ratany Ouk. But her storefront adds a different dynamic. Ratany Bloom has been open about five months. Ouk has been preparing and ordering for the holiday season almost since she opened.

“If people don’t shop local, it is so real that the things that make our community special will begin to disappear,” Pickering said. “We can’t compete with Amazon. We can’t compete with Walmart. … But we are the thing that makes your community special.”