Keeping Your Dollars Local

With all the holiday shopping competition from big box stores and online giants like Amazon, retailers in and around Wilton Manors say they compete by offering something else – better customer service and merchandise not easy or impossible to find elsewhere.

Some have sales but others mainly rely on doing what they do the other 11 months.

Aaron Rochester, assistant store manager for Island City Traders in Wilton Manors, said each new holiday shopping season is better than the last. Typically, December isn’t a big furniture-buying month but sales do increase.

“We want people to know it is a place you can come to holiday shop. We’re getting better and better at being a place to shop for furniture in the holiday season. We create relationships. We have customer service above and beyond. Our clients know us by name,” Rochester said. “It’s all about creating a rapport with your clients and the neighborhood and the city you do business in.” And, he added, having “exceptional products you can’t find anywhere else.” Island City Traders is also providing gift certificates to customers who purchase a certain dollar amount of items. The more customers spend, the bigger the gift certificate.

At The Pride Factory in Fort Lauderdale, holiday shopping is already a driver of major sales. Rocky Bowell, store manager, said business increases by about 25 percent. To help bring in that increase, there are sales on blazers, pants, shorts, shirts, swimwear and underwear. “Even though we’re mostly primarily a men’s fashion store we definitely see the difference. We definitely see increase,” Bowell said.

And it all comes back to selection and service.

“It’s the attention they don’t get when they go into Macy’s or the other stores . . . we always make sure we’ve got unique brands,” Bowell said. Other clothing stores, including The Mix and LeatherWerks, echoed Bowell. Others, including Some Like It Haute, said the holiday shopping season all depends on the travel plans of customers.

Unlike Island City Traders or The Pride Factory, To The Moon doesn’t have any holiday sales. But owner Antonio Dumas does stock lots of special merchandise.

“You can’t even compare me to anybody [in the city]. We’re the only gift shop candy store.” A lot of Dumas’ customers are over 40, 50 and 60 years old. So many of them still prefer to shop locally as opposed to online. “They’re coming here for things they can’t find. I’m sure some of it is online but a lot isn’t.”

That preference for seeing the product before they buy it is a trait Dumas shares with many of his customers. He said he only stocks items that he’s touched and sampled himself. “I have to see the quality of it. I’ve got to taste it.”

At The Pride Factory, there’s also a special holiday fundraiser to go with the store’s sales.

An Orlando Merman, a December Diamonds Ornament, is available at The Pride Factory for $40. Over half the proceeds will be donated to One Orlando Fund, which was established to help the victims of the terrorist attack that occurred at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando last summer. “We had 144 and they’re going pretty fast,” Bowell said.


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