By Patrick Lacombe, The Belton Journal
The holiday season, which encompasses Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, is the most anticipated season of the year for retailers. A slump in sales at this time of year can mean economic disaster for some businesses, but thankfully, most Belton area businesses recorded record sales this year during the holidays.
“Sales were definitely up this year, and we are expecting even better next year,” Richard Myers, owner of Real Deals on Home Decor, said. “Right now we are closed for inventory and to move some things around to make room for new inventory and do some painting. We will be open again for business on Jan. 8.”
Cochran, Blair, and Potts owner Robert Potts, reported his sales as “way above last year’s” for the holiday season.
“This year was great,” Michelle Moore of Moore, Garrett and Company said. “December was the best month out of the year, and we easily surpassed last year’s sales. We had a lot of people looking for gifts this year. We sold a lot of small gifts and we also sold a lot of gift cards because people like to shop here, but sometimes it’s hard to buy for someone else, and that’s where the gift cards come in.”
Another downtown business that had a successful holiday season was My Giving Tree Gifts and Gallery.
“We had record sales this year,” owner Leila Valchar stated. “This is the best I’ve had since I opened My Giving Tree in January 2011. We had a lot of local people come in for their first time stressing that they wanted to shop locally and support local businesses. We had a tremendous amount of support from the community and I sold a lot of gifts and a lot of art.”
Valchar credits this year’s banner sales to the fact that the city expanded the monthly “Downtown Market Days” to include the northern end of East Street and the businesses located there.
“People are still finding us, but thanks to Market Days putting booths down East Street, people are walking by and they see we are here,” Valchar said. “We also had a number of locals who brought their kids for Trick or Treat come back and buy gifts. We gave out cards that were good for a free gift to parents that night and we had a lot of them come back and claim their free gifts, and they bought Christmas gifts while they were here.”
Myers and Valchar also mentioned that the upcoming completion of the Nolan Creek Recreation and Flood Mitigation Project should help downtown businesses flourish.
“This is going to help make Belton a destination stop for visitors, and they will do some shopping while they’re here,” said Myers.
“We have a very supportive Mayor and City Council,” Valchar said. “They’re aware of our struggles, and they want us to succeed. The creek project will bring a lot of people into Belton and that will help business. We still have a long way to go, but we are getting there.”
In Belton, Nolan Creek connects three major parks, the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, and the historic downtown area. The picturesque Nolan Creek Hike & Bike Trail lines a significant stretch of the creek. The Nolan Creek Recreation and Flood Mitigation Project will beautify the Downtown area of the Creek, improve access to the waterway, and add whitewater features to enhance kayaking and tubing. This investment will preserve an important natural resource, reinforce downtown Belton as an attraction and attract future commercial development opportunities along the waterway. The recreational part of the project should be open to the public in late spring.