Douglas mall benefiting Carson retailers? |

Douglas mall benefiting Carson retailers?

by Susie Vasquez

Mike Wiley, store manager at J.C. Penney in Carson City’s Southgate Mall, said development of the Carson Valley Plaza in north Douglas County seems to be helping business.

“Customers don’t need to drive to Reno for many big-ticket items,” Wiley said. “And we’re competitive with most of those (Carson Valley Plaza) stores.

“I’m very optimistic about the balance of this year and 2004. This store performed beyond company projections for last five years and I expect that to continue,” he said. “I can only speak for my store, but the sales have been coming in.”

Sales from November to January make up 29 percent of his annual revenues and Wiley said shoppers are starting earlier this year, with strong sales in jewelry and women’s and children’s clothing.

Sue St. Marie, general manager at Gottschalk’s in Carson City, said she thought sales might dip when Carson Valley Plaza stores started opening, but most of those stores aren’t in direct competition with Gottschalk’s and this year sales are strong.

“Things are picking up the way they always do, pretty much in sync with last year,” she said.

Just a few doors north of Gottschalks, store manager Robin Runzel of Corral West Ranchwear echoed that sentiment.

“We were well stocked, but we’re already having to reorder Christmas cards and decorative items,” she said. “We’re getting a lot of special orders for premium hats, winter coats and boots. People are starting their Christmas shopping early.”

Such is not the case in downtown Carson City, where local merchants complain that sales have dipped significantly. Mazair Mahjoobi, a partner Shahram’s Fine Persian Rugs, said sales started slowing down in October.

“We’ve been here almost a year and business has been up and down – altogether, not bad for a new business,” he said. “All the retail downtown businesses expect higher sales during Christmas. Usually, that’s how it goes,”

Elenie Antonsen rents vintage clothing out of the small Curry Street shop she calls Revelations. She said she had a good Halloween season and people are already starting to inquire about Christmas costume rentals.

“But I don’t anticipate a lot of sales in vintage clothing over Christmas,” she said. “My husband John owns Glass Creek Studio. He’s seeing a lot of demand for his custom work, but his walk-in business is slow.

“I hope people are aware, they’ve got to support Carson City’s downtown community to keep it alive,” she said. “We all shop on the hill, (Carson Valley Plaza) but we have to spread the money around. That’s what will keep Carson City’s downtown vital.”

Since Sept. 16, the National Retail Federation has been forecasting a 5.7 percent increase in holiday sales and figures from the U.S. Commerce Department back that up.

Retail sales rose 6.7 percent in October. The total retail sales figure, which includes autos, gas stations and restaurants, dropped 0.3 percent.

According to the annual holiday spending survey by Myvesta, a consumer education organization, the average shopper is planning to increase their holiday expenditures by 15.6 percent over last year to $835.

“The increased amount is a reflection of the recent drop in the unemployment rate and good news on the economy’s robust growth,” said Steve Rhode, president and co-founder of Myvesta. “While the number has increased, we haven’t returned to the economic enthusiasm people showed in 2000 when the average shopper spent $1,220 on holiday purchases.”