Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Logo of The Middlebury Campus
Thursday, Apr 18, 2024

Middlebury businesses prepare for holiday shopping season

In December, downtown Middlebury lights up with festive decorations as local businesses prepare for the busiest shopping season of the year.
In December, downtown Middlebury lights up with festive decorations as local businesses prepare for the busiest shopping season of the year.

Though it may seem to shoppers that the holiday commercial season is just now coming into full force, many businesses in Middlebury have been preparing for this shopping rush for weeks or even months. After a challenging year for local businesses, Middlebury streets are now filled with eager shoppers looking for presents and baked goods to entertain family and friends.

Contributing  to this shopping rush is the reintroduction of Thursday “Midd Night Strolls,” the first of which was held on Dec. 2. To attract more customers on these three Thursdays, local businesses have put together a series of holiday promotions and discounts. For example, Jutta Miska, executive director of Buy Again Alley, offered store specials like 10% off all purchases offered during the first holiday stroll. 

“This coming Thursday, we are raffling off two $30 gift certificates,” Miska said. “And the last Thursday, we’ll have 20% off all the Christmas items.”

Other Middlebury businesses, such as the Middlebury Co-op, never see much of an off season. 

“At the Co-op, we’ve been fortunate enough to be pretty busy year-round,” said Karin Mott,  Marketing, Education, and Membership Manager of The Middlebury Co-op. For the Co-op, preparing for the holiday rush means changing the types of items on display and putting out more baked goods and specialty foods. 

“Just loads of holiday fun thrown in, but really regular holiday operations are still full-tilt like they always are,” Mott explained. 

In contrast, Sweet Cecily’s owner, Nancie Dunn, said that she starts holiday preparations many months in advance.

“I’m still buying a lot and stocking the store because a lot of inventory goes out every day, but I plan for Christmas long before this,” Dunn said. 

Throughout the year, the store remains very busy as tourists, college students and locals come in to shop. “I kind of think of it as the town’s gift shop, even though the customers are from everywhere,” Dunn said. To keep Sweet Cecily fully stocked, Dunn travels to multiple buying shows throughout the country, finding unique and interesting items within the right price range. Buying for the holiday season requires an even more niche search into unique seasonal items. 

In contrast, holiday items in Buy Again Alley come primarily from donations, most of which are Christmas items, though Miska mentioned she wished the store received more donations of other holiday items too. 

Buy Again Alley also consigns with young adults 25 years and younger. “That’s part of my mission to get the younger generation into recycling and second hand shopping and not throwing stuff away,” Miska said. Many businesses throughout Middlebury are eager to experience a much greater holiday rush than last year, as Covid-19 made shopping in stores a far greater challenge. However, last year was not a bad year for all kinds of businesses in Middlebury. The Co-op saw a significant growth in sales in the 2020 holiday season due to a nationwide reliance on grocery stores. 

“So many folks were turning to grocery stores rather than restaurants and other types of retail establishments to celebrate their holidays at home,” Mott said. She mentioned that the store even expected less sales growth compared to last year, but this has not been the case. 

With the return of “Midd Night Strolls” as well as other activities that they were not able to participate in last year, Buy Again Alley is attracting much more business than in 2020. The store is able to give out wrapped chocolate bars, and has set up pop-ups to bring in local artists. The first Thursday, the store brought in Sophia Manzi, a local artist who makes jean jackets with vibrant designs on the back. Buy Again Alley is also bringing in a family of glass blowers on Dec. 16 to attract customers. In terms of holiday set-up, the store is significantly more decorated for the holidays. “I want to say 15% of the store is decked out [for the] holidays and also the window is totally holiday [themed],” Miska said.

In tandem with Thursday holiday strolls, Middlebury students will receive $20 in Middlebury Money to spend at local businesses on Dec. 9 and take advantage of what various Middlebury shops have to offer.

Emily Hogan

Emily Hogan '24 (she/her) is a Local Editor.   

She is studying Environmental Policy with a minor in Math. In addition to writing and editing for the Campus, she also dances with the On Tap dance troupe and serves on the Environmental Council. She has previously worked with the Sustainability Solutions Lab at Middlebury.