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New Canaan kicks off holiday shopping season

Published 9:59 am, Tuesday, December 3, 2013

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  • Togs, a women's clothing store at 66 Elm St., was one of the most crowded  shops in downtown New Canaan on Black Friday. Photo: Nelson Oliveira / New Canaan News Contributed
    Togs, a women's clothing store at 66 Elm St., was one of the most crowded shops in downtown New Canaan on Black Friday. Photo: Nelson Oliveira

 

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Despite the cold weather and lack of big department stores, downtown New Canaan was filled with shoppers on Black Friday as many people started their holiday buying.

New Canaan resident Destiny Ikard said she went downtown mostly to walk around and buy some winter clothes.

"It's really pretty here," she said. "But prices are still the same."

Elizabeth King, owner of the Linen Shop at 21 Elm St., said Black Friday is not really a day for locally-owned stores but her shop has seen a "vacation day-level of business."

"Black Friday is more of a chain stores' event," she said. "But a lot of people are on vacation, so business has been good."

King and other local shop owners said they were expecting Saturday to be busier. Nov. 30 was Small Business Saturday, a rebuttal to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

According to a National Retail Federation survey, up to 140 million people planned to go shopping over the Thanksgiving weekend, down from 147 million in 2012. For the whole holiday shopping season, the NRF is expecting a 3.9 increase in sales, higher than the 10-year average growth of 3.3 percent.

New Canaan Toy Store owner Chris Kilbane said he's not expecting this year's holiday sales to be higher than last year's because of a calendar issue. This year, there are only have four weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas. In 2011 and 2012, there were five.

"Weekends are absolutely critical," he said. "So, realistically, we're not going to have higher sales."

But so far, Kilbane said, business at the store, 94 Park St., has been great.

"Black Friday for us is usually fairly busy and a lot of fun," he said. "This has been one of our better pre-holiday season weeks."

The weather was cold Friday -- in the low 30s -- but the sunny skies certainly helped bring people out.

Ron and Allison Totaro brought their twins downtown to enjoy the day off and take advantage of any deals they could find. They said they wanted to avoid going to the mall or large department stores.

"It's much easier to find parking here," Allison said.

Ron said he bought 10 shirts at J. Crew, 24 Elm St. The store, which was offering 30 percent off on purchases, was one of the most crowded in the afternoon.

The owners of the new The Candy Scoop and New Canaan Music -- which are located next to each other at 72 Park St. -- were enjoying the number of people walking around.

The music store, which opened in July, was offering big discounts. A guitar pack marked at $372, for instance, was on sale for $189. Owner Philip D. Williams said he wanted to "catch people's eyes" and let them get to know the store.

Some of the biggest sellers in downtown New Canaan were winter clothes, especially gloves and hoods. As far as toys goes, rainbow looms seem to be growing popular. The multi-colored bracelets with rubber bands are one of the rising toy searches at New Canaan Toy Store.

noliveira@bcnnew.com; 203-330-6582; @olivnelson