Birds, Pies or Nothing

Christmas is past, and the consumer gift-purchasing frenzy along with it. We wondered what local consumer/retail businesses are doing to keep the ball rolling in the post-Xmas season, so we asked a few stores in Camden and a couple inns in Rockland.

At Surroundings, a small sign in the front window trumpeted a 30%-off sale. This was an exception: we didn’t see similar sales at other Main St. Camden retailers.

A couple doors down at Once a Tree, owner Bernice Berger said “I am staying open seven days a week as my major attempt at keeping the ball rolling.” She added, “We do have sale items,” but no store-wide sale at the end of December. Come January, she’ll put some areas in the store on sale, but, she emphasizes, “Once a Tree is not a seasonal store,” and the merchandise retains its shelf-life indefinitely. December, she says, is only her fifth-busiest month.

Across the street at Ducktrap Bay Trading Co., I was nearly dragged off the sidewalk by a friendly lady excitedly urging me to visit to see live kestrels. You bet! That would have brought me in regardless of my mission. Inside, two members of the raptor rescue and education group Wind Over Wings were showing two of these lovely, diminutive and well-behaved birds of prey.

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Wind Over Wings visits Ducktrap Bay Trading Co. in Camden with a pair of kestrels.

According to owner Joyce Lawrence, Ducktrap Bay is not a gift shop but, rather, a “serious gallery of wildlife and marine art.” As such, Christmas is not her key season either, and the birds were not a post-season marketing device, per se. She hosts Wind Over Wings more or less monthly, and does so because it’s mutually beneficial: it brings people into the store, she acknowledges, and it also helps raise awareness for Wind Over Wings, which she supports. Lawrence says she also sponsors bird carving classes year-round, but like Once a Tree, isn’t doing much marketing tailored to specifically the post-Xmas season.

In Rockland, P.J. Walker, co-owner of the LimeRock Inn, says he’s staying open but not doing any active marketing. “We’ve never really pursued off-season business,” he says, explaining that the inn operates with a staff consisting of just its two owners, and that they like things quiet at this time of year, to make up for working “flat out” for six months during tourist season.

In contrast, owner Cheryl Michaelson at the Berry Manor Inn says her marketing is a year-round effort. Berry Manor is a prime mover behind 9th annual “Pies on Parade” event (January 27) that also involves the other Historic Inns of Rockland (including the LimeRock), the local museums, several restaurants and other businesses. It’s a collaborative, city-wide effort to bring people downtown during the year’s darkest, coldest, and otherwise quietest days. To get the word out, Berry Manor relies on its newsletter, Facebook, and website updates, and these efforts all supplement those of Historic Inns of Rockland, which also blogs and does publicity.

So how are we marketing in the “quiet” season? It’s all over the board. A few are laying low, actually hoping that things will stay pretty quiet. Some pursue business as usual, just accepting that this is a quiet time of the year. And others are running sales or putting in a special marketing effort, trying to make the post-holiday season as productive as possible.

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