Neenah store owners reflect on holiday sales during the pandemic

Published: Dec. 24, 2020 at 5:00 PM CST
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NEENAH, Wis. (WBAY) - Last-minute holiday shoppers are making their final Christmas gift purchases Thursday, marking the end of a unique retail holiday season.

“It’s actually been very comparable to years past,” said Tina Palmer, owner of Red Door Mercantile in downtown Neenah.

At Red Door Mercantile several customers stopped in on Christmas Eve, a sign of support Palmer has seen throughout the holiday season.

“We’re very, very grateful. We have an awesome community and it shows,” said Palmer. “They care and they support us so we love it.”

Other shops like My Soul Loves have noticed the same.

“The community support in Neenah that we have is just outstanding and it’s just – I mean I can’t describe it, it’s crazy, it’s very good,” said Sheila Kelley, owner of My Soul Loves.

But that doesn’t mean this shopping season hasn’t changed from a normal year.

Kelley has started creating daily Facebook videos as a promotional tool and offering curbside pickup.

“It’s been different,” said Kelley. “We’ve had to step out of our boundaries a little bit just to get more things out in the open for people who are staying home and trying to stay a little bit safer.”

However, if anything, Kelley and Palmer feel the pandemic has encouraged more customers to shop local.

“I mean there has been so much spotlight on small businesses that it has just made an extreme difference,” said Kelley. “I think that everybody who’s out Christmas shopping is at least trying to support the local businesses, the clothing stores, the restaurants and everything.”

“I heard it many times over that that was their focus this year that they were shopping local only,” said Palmer. “It’s amazing for a small business because we put our heart and soul into our business, and so when that comes back at us it’s such a gift, it really is. It’s amazing so we’re very, very grateful.”

Both owners believe that support, and the lessons learned in the pandemic, will carry through the upcoming New Year.

“I think that if we all just keep continuing to be safe and doing things the way that we’re doing I think we’ll be fine,” said Kelley.

“My whole attitude was I just want to come out the other side being a better place than I was before,” said Palmer. “And I think that for a lot of us we just appreciate things so much more and we won’t take things for granted.”

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