Holidays in Hinsdale were good for many


Last updated 12/30/2019 at 8:14pm | View PDF

Jim Slonoff

Horse-drawn wagon rides were a big draw at the annual Historic Holidays in Hinsdale sponsored by the village on the first two Saturdays in December. The 12th annual event gave people the chance to decorate cookies and visit with Santa in Burlington Park before checking out the many shops and restaurants in the downtown. The weather cooperated with warmer than normal temperatures through most of December, which merchants said made a difference in foot traffic.

A growing economy and a shortened holiday season, with six days fewer between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year than in 2018, contributed to healthy retail sales in December.

Hinsdale merchants reported strong sales as well.

"The season went really well. We had a great year," said Sweet William owner Kristi Smith. "We were feeling pretty fortunate. We have so many great loyal customers in town that want to shop local and try to stay away from e-commerce and the malls."

Besides working to provide exceptional customer service, the shop hosts a gift show the weekend after Thanksgiving weekend to give customers even more reasons to visit.

"We try to pick out unique items for our customers to either give as hostess gifts or stocking stuffers at a reasonable price point," Smith said, noting the items this year included everything from sea salted caramels to sweater shavers.

"We sold out within the first three days," Smith added. "We have a following of people who can't wait for that and they come just for that."

Shopping behavior reflected the current economy, in her opinion.

"I felt like people maybe weren't as price conscious this year and they were adding onto their gifts. They wouldn't just buy one - they would buy a few things."

Even though winter seemed to arrive early with snow on Halloween, December temperatures were warmer than usual.

"I think the weather really helped this year," Smith said. "It really added to the energy of our clientele because people were out shopping, walking around and didn't have to worry about their coats and scarves. I think it worked to our benefit quite a bit."

Ali Graeme, owner of Sweet Ali's Gluten Free Bakery, agreed that the warm weather brought out the crowds.

"It was much easier for people to get out and around," she said.

Among her top sellers at the holidays - and year-round - are cinnamon buns.

"We also do a cookie bar, so we have a lot of individual cookies people can choose from. That's fun being gluten-free, because you don't always get a lot of options."

As is the case for retailers, the final month of the year for the bakery brings in significant revenue.

"Thanksgiving through Christmas is the time where people get together and celebrate and enjoy each other's company and food is a big part of it, so for us it is a very busy time," she said.

The bakery has been so busy that Graeme is expanding to the space next door that formerly was home to Frank's on First. She had hoped it would be ready for Christmas and now expects it to open within the next couple of weeks.

"It's just going to be production space," she said. "We actually aren't opening the front area at this point."

Jeans & a Cute Top Shop is a newcomer to the Hinsdale retail scene, having opened Sept. 21. Owner Jill Card, who has been in business for 10 years, also has stores in St. Charles and Wheaton.

"We were making new friends every day and appreciate those who checked us out," she said.

Card had a store in Downers Grove for seven years before moving to her current space in Garfield Crossing. Her out-of-town customers appreciate the parking lot off Garfield and the back entrance. And word about the shop is spreading here in Hinsdale, Card said.

"The best thing I heard (from a customer was), 'I was at a party and someone was wearing this really cute top and she told me she got it at this new store in Hinsdale,' " Card said.

The village worked to help support merchants in various ways during the shopping season. The Hinsdale Parks and Recreation Department sponsored a new 12 Days of Holiday Cheer event in which families and kids searched for ornaments around town, following clues posted on social media, to win gift cards to local merchants.

"12 Days of Holiday Cheer was extremely well-received by both the local community and local businesses," said Heather Bereckis, parks and recreation superintendent. "Twenty-nine businesses participated, donating prizes for all 12 days of the event. Community members were excited to hunt for prizes, and feedback from winners was extremely positive when they realized they were receiving prizes they could spend locally."

The village also received positive feedback about the downtown lighting. Many said the lights along first and Washington and in Burlington Park looked the best they ever had.

"The lighting showcases the vibrant downtown and creates a very inviting atmosphere, said Anna Martch, economic development and communications specialist for the village.

Many got their first look at the decorated downtown during the Hinsdale Chamber of Commerce's 54th annual Christmas Walk Dec. 6. Crowds of people filled the streets to visit shops and enjoy the rides, characters and giveaways.

Momentum for merchants was growing even before Dec. 1 arrived, March observed.

"Between the Wine Walk (Oct. 18), Small Business Saturday (Nov. 30) and 12 Days of Holiday Cheer, we think that residents and visitors had great opportunities to explore all that Hinsdale has to offer," she said.

Author Bio

Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 630-323-4422, ext. 104


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