LAKE GEORGE -- As the last few shopping days before Christmas sweep past, shoppers are looking for unique experiences and gifts, according to area retailers.
In Lake George, 22 businesses hosted a Christmas Walk, inviting customers to walk, shop and dine in downtown. At the same time, they were collecting nonperishable food items and conducting a variety of specials and raffles.
“The best part has been that Mother Nature cooperated,” said Patty Kirkpatrick from her Canada Street business, Cafe del Lago, of the inaugural event. “Just like in the summer, it’s all about the weather.”
Kirkpatrick estimated about twice the number of people showed up this Saturday than last Saturday. She said when organizing the event, she noticed all but one of the businesses participating would have been open anyway.
“There really are a lot of places open here normally,” she said, while noting the goods offered were “high end.”
“This isn’t typical summertime Lake George shopping, this is Santa’s helper shopping,” she said.
Instead of T-shirt and souvenir shops, she said, Molly Malone’s was open, with china and crystal for sale, while Waterfront Living was selling Adirondack-themed home decor.
“There’s really a lot of beautiful items here,” Kirkpatrick said.
At the Lake George Olive Oil Company, Rachel Simkins said, “We had an excellent day. It was definitely a better turnout than a regular Saturday.”
Many people learned of the event through advertising, she said, and most of the customers were local residents. Some indicated they had also been shopping at nearby outlets, but most had targeted the Christmas Walk as their destination for the day.
In Glens Falls, shoppers at The Shirt Factory, at the corner of Cooper and Lawrence streets, were looking for one-of-a-kind items.
David Francis, director of the Shirt Factory Gallery, said sales were better even than during the location’s open house weekends, which packed the three-story building.
“They came then and did their searching,” he said of the open houses, “then they came back to buy.”
Jacquiline Simone said she experienced a similar turnout. “A month ago, people were still looking, now they’re here and they know what they want. It’s down to the line.”
She has repeat customers who come in for her handcrafted jewelry, made from pieces she collects from travels around the world, she said.
At Travel Well, owner Drew Callahan saw a variety of shoppers: “There were some that bought gifts for themselves.”
He also had couples come into the store, browse, then send their partner out while they shopped. “Then they’d swap,” he said.
At the Adirondack Outlet Mall, there was no certain type of shopper. Individuals, families, groups of men and groups of ladies wandered through the shops.
At The Children’s Place, sales clerks said they were seeing a variety of shoppers, most of them local people. An advertised denim sale was a particular draw for customers. Throughout the previous week, they reported, grandparents had been making purchases, along with a number of shoppers buying adopt-a-family gifts.
In Corningware, Corelle and More, sales clerks saw both local and out-of-town shoppers, and said business had been similar to Black Friday shopping.
In the Coleman Factory Outlet, however, shoppers were not pouring in. Summertime is their big draw. The store can be a good spot for stocking stuffers, but the bulk of its items involve camping and are not a hot commodity at Christmas.
The Family Footwear Center did fill needs for the season.
“With the early snow, our boots sales had a good start,” said store manager Lori Burnett.
She said their customers appear to be about half locals and half travelers. “We get a lot of ski traffic that stops here,” she said.
Practical gifts, like workboots and slippers, have been big hits this season, she said.
Cindy Bell, Queensbury, was shopping at the outlets Saturday morning.
“I get the majority from here,” she said of her Christmas shopping list.
The only letdown, she said, is the shopping district no longer has a toy store. She comes, she said, because of the variety of other shops. “It’s a really casual atmosphere, plus there’s a restaurant. It’s just a nice place to shop,” she said.
You can read Christina Scanlon’s blog daily at www.poststar.com or follow her on Twitter, @CJ_Scanlon.