Maggie Anne Shoppe on N. Howell Street in downtown Hillsdale is one of the several busi­nesses par­tic­i­pating in this year’s Small Business Sat­urday. Julia Mullins | Col­legian

Across Michigan, the holiday shopping season proves prof­itable for local retailers, and Hillsdale busi­nesses follow this trend.

Womply, a software firm that pro­vides business intel­li­gence and other ser­vices to small busi­nesses throughout the country, pub­lished a report on Nov. 11, revealing retail shopping trends in Michigan. 

The study found that five of the top 15 con­sumer spending days for local retailers fall between Black Friday and Christmas Eve. 

From Nov. 22 to Dec. 25, 2018, Hillsdale retailers’ average daily revenue was $1,567. Con­sumer spending during that period accounted for 13.5% of their annual revenue. Retailers com­pleted roughly 12 trans­ac­tions per day, and cus­tomers spent an average of $130.08 per trans­action. 

Of the 35 rural and urban towns sur­veyed, Hillsdale had the second-highest average daily revenue during the hol­idays. It far out­per­formed the two towns closest geo­graph­i­cally: Adrian, in which retailers had an average daily revenue of $817, and Mar­shall, where retailers reported an average daily revenue of $620.

Wombly’s report is con­sistent with Hillsdale retailers’ expe­rience. 

Maggie Anne Shoppe, Hillsdale Jew­elers, Gelzer’s Hardware, Small Town Sweet Bou­tique, Maribeth’s, and Hillsdale Craft Supply agree that the period between Black Friday and Christmas is their busiest and most prof­itable. 

Local busi­nesses must adjust their oper­a­tions to respond to the increased demand.

Patty Bailey, owner of Maggie Anne Shoppe, said she often doubles or triples the bou­tique staff during the hol­idays.

“Everybody knows they’re going to be working more hours and earning more money,” she said. 

Hillsdale Jew­elers manager Jessica Nealy said the hol­idays are “very hectic.” To prepare for the rush, the jeweler said she brings in extra inventory and main­tains a suf­fi­cient supply of jewelry boxes. 

“We try to stay a step ahead,” Nealy said. 

The hol­idays are lucrative for Gelzer’s Hardware, but Andrew Gelzer said he doesn’t hire addi­tional help, as the store is busy year-round.

“For us, the holiday season is just the change in mer­chandise going out the door,” he said.

 During the hol­idays, Gelzer’s pro­motes popular gift items such as power tools and acces­sories, pocket knives, and hard-to-find tools during the hol­idays.

Small Town Sweet Boutique’s con­fec­tions are in high demand before every holiday, but manager Alexandra Brock agrees that the period between Thanks­giving and Christmas is excep­tionally busy. The shop takes on addi­tional labor to increase pro­duction of its best-selling products. 

“We need more man­power to help with the added volume of candy bou­quets and stocking stuffers,” Brock said. 

Many of Hillsdale’s retailers can pin­point their most prof­itable days. The Womply study did not find that Small Business Sat­urday, the Sat­urday after Black Friday, was among the top con­sumer spending days for local retailers, but Bailey and Hillsdale Craft Supply owner Shelley Mangus named it as one of their most lucrative.

“My profit margin is highest on Small Business Sat­urday because of the quantity sold,” said Mangus. 

Maggie Anne Shoppe offers gift wrapping on Black Friday, and Bailey said it’s also a big con­sumer-spending day for the bou­tique. 

For Small Town Sweet Bou­tique, the three Sat­urdays before Christmas are busiest, and at Hillsdale Jew­elers, the week pre­ceding Christmas is most hectic. Carol Gier, a clerk at Maribeth’s said the Friday before Christmas is gen­erally the busiest day, but that shopping pat­terns vary.

“You just never know. Usually it stays pretty steady,” she said. “Some cus­tomers even come in on Christmas Eve.”

Maribeth’s typ­i­cally brings in extra staff during December. 

Wompy reported that local retailers prove more popular than online retailers for last-minute shopping during the hol­idays. Hillsdale retailers con­curred.

Gelzer said cus­tomers are straight­forward about their last-minute needs, and Nealy said most of Hillsdale Jeweler’s pro­cras­ti­natory cus­tomers are men. 

Mangus said Hillsdale Craft Supply gets extra last-minute shoppers during the hol­idays, but local craft sup­pliers have an advantage over their online coun­ter­parts year-round. 

“When you’re a cre­ative person, and you need some­thing for a project you’re in the middle of, you don’t have time to order it on Amazon and wait two days for it to arrive,” she said. 

Bailey also said local retailers offer many advan­tages. 

“We give cus­tomer service that you just can’t get online,” she said. “We know most of our cus­tomers, so we can suggest items they might not have thought of.”

She explained that local retailers’ follow-up ser­vices are more acces­sible, as it’s quicker and easier to exchange or return a product locally than it is to do so online. 

“It’s just amazing how much people shop, and it’s won­derful that they shop locally,” Bailey said.