Features, Impact, Weeklies

Newbury shops to partake in annual stroll to celebrate the shopping season

The holidays may be the most wonderful time of year, but they can also be the most expensive.  While buying festive presents for the entire family, shoppers empty their wallets and might even lose their holiday cheer along the way.

In an attempt to make life more affordable and enjoyable for shoppers, The Newbury Street League returns for the third year and offers more activities for participants.

Between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Dec. 8, the streets and stores of Newbury will come alive with live music, giveaways, decorations and special appearances — including Santa, his elves and the minions from Universal Pictures’ Despicable Me, said Newbury League Executive Director Michele Messino.

Stroll pulls in customers

Since the holiday season is such a crucial time for retailers, the Newbury Street League — a group whose mission is to “beautify, market and promote businesses,” Messino said — dedication to activities like the Holiday Stroll are critical to the success of the busy shopping street.

“We started the Stroll to drive people to Newbury Street during the holiday season,” Messino said. “We know that we need to do something to attract people here.  Members come up with great discounts and in-store promotions to bring customers in.”

The Holiday Stroll has grown year after year, starting with 47 stores, then 57 and now 71.

“It is usually really difficult to find affordable gifts for my family, so an opportunity like the this is a great way to purchase what they would like but within my price range,” said Lindsey Schwartz, a sophomore in the School of Management.

However, this one seasonal event is not all that the Newbury League has accomplished, Messino said. On a daily basis, the League is aware that marketing needs and strategies have changed, and they are dedicated to keeping up with consumers.

“We continue to work with our members daily to find out what their needs are [and] to create new ways to fulfill these different needs,” Messino said, describing the League’s marketing techniques.  “Now we are more event oriented than print, although we do print still.”

An employer’s perspective

Employees on Newbury Street said that the Holiday Stroll is beneficial to their businesses.

“The Holiday Stroll is a good way to get involved with the Newbury League and get into the holiday spirit,” said Morgan Burbank, who works at Britt Ryan, a women’s boutique on Newbury Street.

Many of the 2012 Holiday Stroll stores are not only offering goodies like cookies and coffee to their browsers, but great deals as well, employees said.

To celebrate the Dec. 8 occasion, Burbank said that the Britt Ryan store plans on giving out Christmas cookies and holding drawings for $100, $200 and $300 Britt Ryan gift certificates.

“I think it [Holiday Stroll] is a good because it will bring a lot of new foot traffic —  whether looking to buy gifts for friends and family or for a holiday outfit for themselves,” Burbank said.

Many stores also offer their own holiday promotions besides the collaborative efforts of the Holiday Stroll.

In addition to having people come in and get their “passports” stickered during the Stroll, the G20 Spa and Salon said they hosted a gathering called “Spaliday,” which attracted about 600 customers to the storefront this year.

For G20, the holidays have proven to be “good for our business because brings in new people.  And we do see new clients after events like this [Holiday Stroll], Fashion Night Out and Spaliday,” said Carlinne Adames and Taylor Marsh, who both work at the salon.

Businesses focus on production

Despite the amounts of promotion that the Newbury League has done for the 2012 Holiday Stroll, and the many stores affiliated with the walk, there are still many store employees who said they have opted out of the festivities.

Patrick Vardaro, Boston Olive Oil Company owner, decided not to partake this year, although he has in the past. This was not a deliberate decision he said.

“I didn’t get my act together in time to get involved,” Vardaro said.

However, Vardaro said he does not foresee his choice will be detrimental to his holiday business, explaining that foot traffic is typically the same during the holidays, even without the Holiday Stroll bringing in new potential customers.

“We see a lot of student business,” he said. “It increases around the holidays because they are all buying for their parents.  Plus we see a lot of parents picking up their children coming in.”

Vardaro also said he is a member of the Newbury League, despite his inaction this holiday season, and that as a member, he is entitled to ad promotion, tree decorations outside the store and discounts with advertising opportunities, and he must attending monthly meetings.

As the holidays here, the Newbury Street Holiday Stroll is here to alleviate the stressors that come along with gift shopping. Whether seeking a merry environment or jolly treats, shopper can likely expect a unique holiday experience on Newbury Street Saturday.

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