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Retail season starts strong

Amanda Tust Of the Record staff

Shoppers arrived in droves on Friday to kick off the holiday retail season. Walmart’s parking lot at Kimball Junction filled up at 5 a.m. for the annual early-bird sales, traffic was slow moving throughout the Tanger Outlet Center and The North of Main Business Alliance First NoMel festival and "bounty hunt" on Friday brought shoppers out by the hundreds.

Rodman Jordan, president of the North of Main Business Alliance, said 33 merchants sponsored the "bounty hunt" event, where shoppers had to frequent at least eight businesses in the North of Main district to submit a game card for prize drawings. Jordan said approximately 300 cards were submitted in a drawing for prizes that included a season pass to Park City Mountain Resort, a family track pass to White Pine Touring, a free pair of Rossignol "B" series skis and bindings and a $250 gift certificate to No Place Like Home.

"It was very successful in getting people to shop Park City for the Christmas holiday season," Jordan said.

Terry Frank, owner of No Place Like Home, said due in part to the First NoMel event, his Friday after Thanksgiving sales were up almost 50 percent from last year. He said he saw repeat visitors who got their game card stamped and came back later in the day to shop.

"I think the exposure will remind people to come to the stores involved," he said. "It’s a good way for everybody to show off their stores for the holidays."

Jon Allen, owner of J.W. Allen and Sons Toys in the Redstone Towne Center, said business was above average on Friday and over the weekend and stores are beginning to increase their hours.

Allen said J.W. Allen and Sons Toys stays open until 8 p.m. instead of 7 p.m. and select Redstone stores are now staying open until 9 p.m.

"I think people are getting to know that all the stores are open," he said.

On Main Street, Joe Blonigen, store manager of Dolly’s Bookstore, said business in the bookstore and neighboring Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory doubled a regular November Friday sales and was about the same as last year’s Friday-after-Thanksgiving.

"It was like a midwinter Friday," he said.

He said Dolly’s Bookstore held author signings on Saturday with cartoonist Pat Bagley and local authors Cheryl DuBois and Alan Yves Phillips. Blonigen said there was not an increase in Saturday’s business from last year, which he attributes to poor weather and a lack of parking.

"I am sure the parking situation is not helping us at all," he said. "Customers complain about the parking garage not being done." Alicia Rutledge, general manager of the Tanger Outlet Center in Kimball Junction, said traffic counts were up considerably from the previous year for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving. She said all stores held promotional sales over the weekend and 20 stores held early sales on Friday, with some stores opening their doors as early as 5:30 a.m. She said this is the second year that Tanger Outlet Center has offered early-bird specials with 10 to 50 percent discounts.

"People really like the early-bird sales, and a lot of stores are jumping on board," she said.

At Walmart the annual 5 a.m. Friday-after-Thanksgiving store opening filled the parking lot and the store with shoppers looking for sales.

Michael Donahue, store manager for the Park City Walmart, said electronic items were top sellers this year.

"Basic computers and TVs were the biggest run," he said.

Between Walmart and Tanger Outlet traffic on Friday, cars waiting to leave backed up over the hill past the stoplight leading to Rt. 224.

Although the traffic may have calmed after the weekend, stores can expect to see a steady rise in sales in a lead up to the Christmas holiday.

Rutledge said based on past years, she predicts that between now and Christmas the Tanger Outlet Center will remain consistently busy.

"It is one of our busiest times of the year," Rutledge said. "Christmas and back to school are the highest traffic we have."


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