Cha-Ching! Retailers are feeling cautiously optimistic

By Corey Pride cpride@losbanosenterprise.comNovember 23, 2012 

As the holiday shopping season gets in full swing, Los Banos' small businesses are hoping they aren't forgotten by shoppers who have presents to buy.

Los Banos Chamber of Commerce Executive Director John Whala said what he's heard from his members is a sense of "cautious optimism" about the holiday shopping season.

Whala said he strongly encourages people to shop at the small businesses in town.

"We have some very unique shops, a lot of people don't realize that," Whala said. "(And) small business dollars go around seven times in our community."

Alvina Botelho of Accessorize It, which sells clothing, jewelry and handbags on Sixth Street, said the store will be open on Black Friday for the first time this year. She's hoping it can spark an uptick in business

"We don't know what it's going to be like on Black Friday," Botelho said. "Business has been kind of soft. We open everyday and we get what we get."

Leah Costa, owner of Fleur de Lis, said there's opportunity for small businesses during the Thanksgiving weekend.

"A lot of people have family visiting and when they show them the city they don't want to take them to Target, they want to show them the downtown," Costa said.

Erica Reed said she is looking forward to business picking up for the holiday season. Reed owns Heart to Heart Fabrics. She said many people come in her store during the Christmas season looking for just the right item to complete crafts projects.

The day after Black Friday, several Los Banos businesses, including The Country Duck, The Farm House, Fleur de Lis, Health Time, JMG Fabrics and Crafts, Pearson's Jewelers, Phoenix Books, Simply Unique, Thoreson's Numismatics and Una Bella Salon will participate in Small Business Saturday.

The day, started by American Express in 2010, promotes consumers shopping at mom and pop businesses. In Los Banos, the businesses that participate will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and include a drawing for a $250 gift card.

Carol Paradiso, owner of Simply Unique Floral & Gifts, said she believes the extra push will help. Small businesses must rely on good customer service and repeat business, Paradiso said.

"You don't want to compete with the big boxes, we never could," she said. "We rely on our customers, loyal followers."

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