Western Nevada County’s economy seems to be on a slight upturn, but whether the uptick is simply a sign of the shopping season or an actual indicator of improvement remains to be seen.
Grass Valley’s downtown stores are indicating as much as a 30 percent spike in sales, said Julia Jordan, executive director of the Grass Valley Downtown Association.
“I think it’s because the economy is on the rise, and a lot more people are shopping locally and supporting local businesses rather than big corporations,” Jordan said. “It’s nice that people are supporting small businesses that support our nonprofits and schools and give back to the community.”
According to the Associated Press, consumers spent and earned more in November, and for a second straight month, U.S. companies increased their orders for a category of manufactured goods that reflect investment plans.
“Fresh signs of a strengthening U.S. economy on Friday suggested that if Congress and the White House can avert the ‘fiscal cliff,’ the economic recovery might finally accelerate in 2013,” the Associated Press said.
Dave Iorns, owner of Nevada City Crystal and Glass, said he was waiting on the end of Nevada City’s Victorian Christmas festival to make a final determination of the year’s sales, but business has been going well.
“Business has been fabulous,” Iorns said. “We’re at least 10 percent above last year.”
Iorns said he believes the improvement in sales is due to a changing economy.
“Personally people are saying the economy feels like it’s changing and I think it is either that, or people are tired of holding back,” he said.
Iorns said the focus on promoting small business helped him, as the Saturday after Thanksgiving, known as “Small Business Saturday,” proved to be a more successful day this year than last.
“Small Business Saturday was fabulous,” Iorns said. “It was a great day for me. Much better than last year.”
Stacy Hereford, one of the owners of Heart & Home, a country home and garden boutique in downtown Grass Valley, said business has been average this year, which she said is probably due to the weather, but weekends have been consistently positive.
“I think it’s about even with last year,” Hereford said. “I think there’s been a good response with shopping locally and we normally have really good weekends.”
Hereford, who has been with the store for 10 years, said she has seen an improvement over the last few years.
“I think in 2008, when the economy took a dive, that’s when I noticed a definite change in people’s shopping habits, which are gradually getting better every year,” she said. “It’s definitely improving.”
Empire Music store owner Jamey Bellizzi said his Nevada City store has seen mediocre business that lagged in the beginning of December but is starting to improve.
“Business has been OK but could be better,” Bellizzi said. “The first two weeks of the month were unusually slow, but now it’s picked back up. It’s about the same as last year.”
Bellizzi said he saw no increase in sales during Small Business Saturday, which he believes is due to increasing competition with online retailers.
“Thanksgiving was OK,” Bellizzi said. “But we’ve been facing increasing competition with the Internet, so it takes a lot of business away from Thanksgiving to the first couple weeks after the 12th or so.”
Bellizzi said he hopes people support downtown Nevada City, which has changed over the years due to competition.
“I just hope that the public wants to support downtown Nevada City because in years past, it was much more vibrant,” Bellizzi said. “There’s been a change between brick-and-mortar shopping, which has transitioned to Internet stuff going on.”
Bellizzi noted small businesses like his own can offer personal touches that the Internet cannot provide.
“I’m hoping that people will recognize the beauty of shopping local,” Bellizzi said. “I can take care (of customers) on a special level and do a little extra. You don’t get that feeling when ordering online.”
To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4230.