Ho-ho hoping for holiday sales

“We feel very strongly that is the way it ought to be,” Tolbert says.

He estimates nearly one-third of Full Circle’s annual business comes during the holiday season, spanning Thanksgiving through New Year’s.

It’s that way for many businesspeople in the metro who hope that this holiday season will be as strong as, if not stronger than, last year’s.

According to the National Retail Foundation, holiday shopping was up 4.1% to $475 billion last year.

“I’m
optimistic,” Tolbert says. “I think Oklahoma City is in a very positive
place. Last holiday was a good year for us. I have every reason to
think, from the point of view of the economy, this is not going to be a
bad season at all. I think we will do well.”

That’s
good news since independent booksellers have fought an all-out assault
for nearly a decade. The industry was turned on its spine when big-box
retailers such as Barnes & Noble and Borders started popping up.
Then online behemoth Amazon surged to the lead, helping trigger the
e-reader revolution.

“The last 10 years have been revolutionary in the retail book business,” Tolbert says.

That’s
why the holidays take on increasing importance each year. Full Circle
long has sold its customers on the tactile experience a bound book
gives. During the holidays, Tolbert hopes customers will share that with
others.

With a sharp
customer-service focus, Full Circle has increased its events to nearly a
dozen each week, ranging from book signings to book clubs and live
music during evenings and weekends.

“We find people come here, they respond to that, and they buy books,” Tolbert says.

CALL ME, MAYBE?

The holidays also are hot for mobile phone retailers.

U.S. Cellular Oklahoma Director of Sales Tommy Arens says right before Christmas is always a busy time industry-wide.

“The holiday season is the most popular time of year for people to shop for wireless,” he says.

Technology
speaks volumes during the season, with customers getting their hands on
the latest smartphones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S III, as well as
messaging phones, tablets and wireless hot spots.

All products can be purchased online, but Arens says U.S. Cellular’s traditional brick-and-mortar stores see a lot of activity.

“Many smartphone users
still want to be able to come into our stores and hold the device in
their hands, test it out and make sure it has all the features they need
to help enhance their lives. Smartphones are a very popular gift.”

GREEN HOLIDAYS

About
the only green Coolgreens used to see around the holiday season was the
salad in the crisper, says managing partner Allan McMurrain.

Once
the temperature and the sun started dropping earlier in the fall and
winter months, McMurrain realized it might be a lean Christmas unless
some changes were made.

That’s
when he decided to roll out an offering of hot items, including soups,
pizzas and sandwiches, at its five metro locations.

The
new offerings — and a strategic holiday marketing effort — have the
company in the early stages of franchising the concept nationwide.

“Christmas
parties and gift certificates are a good opportunity to get our name
out to additional people,” McMurrain says. “It’s definitely a time we
can spend more time marketing.”

Photo by Mark Hancock

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