Carnegie business owners report brisk holiday sales
By Doug Gulasy
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 8:56 p.m.
George Arnold opened his business on East Main Street in Carnegie in late November.
He picked a good time to start — just in time for the holiday shopping season.
“This was our first time out, and the response was very good,” said Arnold, the owner of Modern Mercantile Pgh., which sells houseware, home decor and other gifts, such as chocolate, from its location at 233 E. Main St.
“(We had) very positive feedback from many of the people in town. Our sales were, I thought, very good for our first Christmas here.”
Arnold's thoughts reflected those of other business owners in Carnegie, who said they had strong sales this Christmas season.
“Business was good — every year, we keep growing by 10 to 15 percent,” said Paul Godleski, owner and “chief chocolatier” at Applelicious on West Main Street. “Christmas is 60 percent of our business for the whole year.”
Applelicious has been at its location across from the Carnegie Municipal Building for seven years. Godleski said he picked the spot because of its location between the Parkway and Interstate 79.
In fact, Carnegie's location near the two highways seems to be attracting more businesses to the borough.
“A lot of our clients are from the North Hills, South Hills, east and west, and they've all mentioned how easy it is to get to our location in Carnegie,” said Steve Jordan, general manager of Captain Clothing Company.
The company, which manufactures and sells clothing for schools, sports organizations and some federal agencies, opened in downtown Carnegie in March 2011.
Like Godleski, Jordan said business keeps growing.
“This location has been very good to our company,” he said. “We do a lot of online Web sales, and having a brick and mortar building in Carnegie has been very good to our business model. We get a lot of walk-in business.”
Businesses in Carnegie approached the holiday season differently.
Godleski said Applelicious gets most of its business through school fundraisers — which span five states — and word of mouth, so he doesn't advertise.
It hasn't hurt him, as he said he works 18-hour days, seven days a week beginning at Halloween in order to keep up with the growing demand. The rest of the year, the store is open three days a week.
“The staff is what helps me through,” said Godleski, who keeps a group of seasonal employees. “Every year, I don't think I can get the job done because it keeps growing, and every year my staff says, ‘Don't worry, Paul, we'll get it done.'”
Meanwhile, other businesses in the borough — including Captain Clothing, Modern Mercantile and several others — put advertisements in the newspapers urging consumers to shop in Carnegie during the holiday season.
Borough officials added their own incentive this year. While the borough usually offers free parking at meters for about two weeks each holiday season, council extended it this year from Thanksgiving through New Year's at manager Jeff Harbin's suggestion. The borough advertised the policy on its website.
Jordan said he didn't know how many people were aware of the policy because he saw people putting money in the meters, but Arnold said he thought every little bit helped.
“When I worked (in downtown Pittsburgh), that was always the biggest gripe: ‘Why should I go into town when I could go to the mall and park for free?'” he said.
Not all businesses reported heavy traffic during the Christmas season.
Kelly Lamb, manager of Debbie Gate's All-American Barbecue, Burgers, Fries and Funnel Cakes, said business is slowest in December and January.
Arnold, on the other hand, said he thought the season was a success.
That success, he said, wasn't even affected by worries over the “fiscal cliff” negotiations in Washington. In fact, he said he thought the economic uncertainty made people more likely to shop locally.
“Many consumers now want to keep the money they're spending in that area, rather than seeing it go off to a large corporation,” he said. “Which is very good for businesses of this size.”
Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-8527 or email@example.com.
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