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Lodi stores roll out the holiday decorations early

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Posted: Monday, November 22, 2010 1:22 pm

On the day after Halloween, Robyn Grace Jennings closed her store for two days and converted it into a Christmas wonderland. Yes, Christmas on Nov. 3. It’s an annual lament that society moves Christmas further and further back on the calendar, with decorations on store windows and merchandise ready for willing buyers.

The reason to decorate early, merchants and store managers say, is threefold:

  • You need to get customers “in the mood,” even if they don’t buy anything in November.
  • Big-box stores decorate early, so if small business people don’t do the same, the big-boxers will get the customers.
  • Some people are already shopping for the holidays.
  • Since budgets are tight, shoppers are making their purchases a little at a time. They can’t afford to splurge on one day.

That’s why many stores are dolling it up now.

The Lodi store that may have the greatest Christmas spirit is The Dermal Clinic on Pine Street. Store owner Judy Phillips has 15 trees filled to the brim with decorations she has collected over the years.

Believe it or not, two of the trees are in the restroom.

“We created kind of a magical place that people can enjoy with the kind of heaviness with people’s financial situation and elections,” Phillips said.

One tree at The Dermal Clinic contains all sorts of old-fashioned ornaments and other decorations, some of them going back to the 1930s.

Someone who goes against the holiday grain is Mike Locke, who owns Christensen’s clothing store on School Street. There is a blouse with ornaments and a sweater with “Ho, ho, ho” on it adorning the front window, but that’s about it.

“We won’t do decorations until after Thanksgiving,” Locke said. “You’ve still go to celebrate Thanksgiving.”

Store clerk Monica Clasen noted that some customers have said they appreciate that Christensen’s didn’t have holiday decorations in mid-November.

But other merchants say they have to get shoppers in the mood.

“If you don’t turn to Christmas as early as all the big-box stores, then you lose out,” said Tammy Michael, who owns Fashion Safari in Downtown Lodi. “If they’re ready to shop and you’re not, they’ll go somewhere else,”

In west Lodi, JC Penney put up some modest decorations during the second week of November. Even though the economy is tight, the store isn’t cutting back on decorations.

“We want everybody to be really engaged and in the  holiday spirit,” said store manager Virginia McCoy. “We’ve asked customers if they’re shopping for the holidays (already). They say they are.”

Walmart Stores opened their Christmas shops the first week of November and sold some holiday toys as early as mid-October, store spokesman Ravi Jariwala said from the firm’s corporate office in Arkansas.

“Our goal is to provide the solutions our customers need for the season when they decide they are ready to buy,” Jariwala said.

“I’m in the spirit already,” said McCoy, the Lodi JC Penney manager. “I’m ready.”

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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