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Conway Christmas Tree results in mixed holiday shopping season review

Mixed feelings about Conway Christmas Trees' effect on retail sales

Posted: December 27, 2013 - 8:11pm
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ERIC WHITE STAFF PHOTO     Employees at E. Leigh's in downtown Conway check out a customer on Friday.
ERIC WHITE STAFF PHOTO Employees at E. Leigh's in downtown Conway check out a customer on Friday.

With the Conway Christmas Tree, extended shopping hours and a revitalized downtown, the Conway Downtown Partnership and Conway Area Chamber of Commerce planned for a successful Christmas shopping season.

Kim Williams, executive director of Conway Downtown Partnership, said although the chamber doesn’t have any hard numbers, through visiting with downtown merchants she has heard this was a very good Christmas.

“They have felt like this has been one of the best (Christmases) in years,” she said.

The regional draw to Conway has been greater this year, Williams said, with a lot of people from neighboring communities like Russellville and Clarksville coming to Conway to see the largest Christmas tree in the Midsouth.

“People came to see the tree and said they didn’t realize the amount of shopping Conway has,” she said. “They said they love coming to Conway over Little Rock because it is easier to get in and out of and the people are friendly.”

Sales Associate Amber Bryant of Pizzazz Interiors said although the store is located across the street from the Conway Christmas Tree, the store did not do as well as the National Retail Federation’s prediction in October of holiday retail sales increasing by 3.9 percent.

With Pizzazz Interiors opening in April, Bryant said the lower than expected turn out could have been because Pizzazz is a new addition to the city, and people don’t know much about the store.

Although initial holiday sales were low, Pizzazz is experiencing an after-Christmas rush with discounted holiday inventory. Through mid-January the store will be offering 50 percent off on more than 80 percent of items in store including décor as well as seasonal inventory.

Since Branch Out opened on Oak Street in 2011, owner Beth Yockey said she has noticed more traffic this Christmas.

Yockey said the Conway Christmas Tree created a family atmosphere that drew people downtown.

“They would walk the strip and see that there’s something for everyone with entertainment, dining and shopping,” she said.

With almost all of Oak Street occupied with businesses, shops and restaurants, Yockey said, the revitalization of downtown has been well publicized by the chamber and downtown merchants.

“Everyone has lent a helping hand in referring people to different business to keep it downtown and keep it local,” she said.

Branch Out is open each night until 9 p.m. Many stores followed suit this year by extending hours for the holiday shopping season.

Yockey said she thinks the extended hours made a difference this year, especially for professionals who don’t get off work until 5 p.m.

Pizzazz Interiors stayed open an hour later the night the Conway Christmas Tree was first lit. Bryant said she’s watched people come and go to look at the tree, and feels it doesn’t live up to its potential.

“Our store has several trees in the window that draw more attention than the one across the street,” she said.

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Raving Bear
443
Points
Raving Bear 12/27/13 - 10:39 pm
5
2

Your kidding right?

Who exactly came to see the tree, other than to mock its non-working dunce cap appearance?

Instead of employing young adult fiction writers how about the LCD do some investigative journalism and tell us how much the recent street closing and emergency repairs by Fureigh Electric cost us.

We are still waiting to be told what the public safety emergency was...

The giant dunce cap was a disaster and the Townsell Times has mud on its face for going to bat for an obvious failure of both the system and the expected result.

Voter
286
Points
Voter 12/28/13 - 09:28 am
2
1

How can you tell ?

Two business owners and Ms Williams ( Conway Development) only ones to comment?
I hope the lots of $$ was spent in Conway this season ... not sure the tree was the initial draw . Isaw few people if any when I went thru town but I didn 'to go every night.

The mayor said ppl would see it from the interstate and come to town . You could barely see it and really you had to strain to see it.

The Tree was not working Friday night .

Tova
258
Points
Tova 12/28/13 - 10:16 am
4
1

Face it

The tree was a HUGE failure!
So is Conway government!

crypted quill
10636
Points
crypted quill 12/28/13 - 10:39 am
0
4

"Bah, humbug!" Conway...the

"Bah, humbug!"

Conway...the Neo Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Scotland.

ARBEAR
1257
Points
ARBEAR 12/28/13 - 07:40 pm
2
1

This article is a lot of

This article is a lot of public relations bla...bla...bla to try to soften the blunder of our mayor spending $130,000 of taxpayer's money for a downtown Christmas tree.

Voter
286
Points
Voter 12/28/13 - 10:16 pm
1
0

@arbear

Ya think ?

Voter
286
Points
Voter 12/28/13 - 10:16 pm
0
0

@arbear

Ya think ?

sevenof400
6793
Points
sevenof400 12/29/13 - 11:38 am
2
0

The next time any Conway elected official.......

....who supported this idiotic idea runs for office, the specter of this tree will forever be associated with them. The waste of taxpayer money and the misuse of the emergency declaration will be remembered and political careers ended.

Citizen of Conway
141
Points
Citizen of Conway 12/29/13 - 03:03 pm
2
0

You ain't seen nothin yet

If you think this years tree was a failure, wait until it is demolished (I mean dismantled) by the city work crew, stored only God knows where, and reassembled by the city next year. If the manufacturer couldn't get it up where it would work correctly what chance does the maintenance crew have next year. My money says the city will have to hire it done again next year.I actually avoided downtown becuase it made my blood boil when I drove by and saw that there was almost always a percentage of the tree not working.

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