Mt Washington Valley Chamber members report strong Thanksgiving holiday weekend
Good news from Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce – November 27, 2018
Contact: Marti Mayne, 207-846-6331, PR@mtwashingtonvalley.org
EARLY SNOW, PACKED EVENTS SCHEDULE, TAX-FREE SHOPPING ALL CONTRIBUTED TO STELLAR THANKSGIVING WEEKEND IN MT WASHINGTON VALLEY, NH
North Conway, NH – “The Valley was mobbed, and the mood was joyful” was the feedback received by the Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce in an informal survey sent to members following the Thanksgiving/Black Friday/Small Business Saturday weekend. By all accounts, businesses from retailers to lodging and ski resorts enjoyed a very successful kick off to the holiday season.
“This holiday weekend was a perfect combination of early snowfall, a packed calendar of events and a strong consumer confidence,” said Janice Crawford, Executive Director of the Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce. All of the forces aligned to create the ideal kick off to the holidays in Mt Washington Valley according to Janice and others responding to the survey. “New to the events schedule this year, the Festival of trees surpassed expectations. RSVP was pleased with the fundraising total, as was the Revolution Youth Group of Journey Church who put on the dinner to raise money for their conference costs,” added Crawford.
Capturing photos of the Old Fashioned Christmas celebration in North Conway’s Schouler Park, Dan Houde of WiseguyCreative.com estimated as many as 500 people came to high-five Santa in Schouler Park on Saturday, November 24. Unlike past years, snow on the ground added to the festivities.
The early snow has provided a huge boon to ski resorts, some of which enjoyed their earliest opening ever. Jack Fagone, Director of Marketing at Wildcat Mountain told the chamber that “Thanksgiving 2018 was significantly up over 2017 at Wildcat.” He explained “The early start to the ski season, plus snowmaking, natural snow, and cold temps have allowed us to open all of our terrain at Wildcat. There’s lots of pent up hype in our markets thanks to all of this early season action,” finished Fagone.
With so much going on over the Thanksgiving weekend, It’s possible that some of the more traditional attractions were impacted by the early skiing, events and shopping options in the Valley. The chamber heard from Susan Logan, Manager of Marketing and Events at the Conway Scenic Railroad that while Friday of the vacation weekend was on par with past years, Saturday and Sunday were down. At the same time, the railroad ran one last train than last year’s schedule on Saturday which accounted for some of the difference, and the rain/ice impacted driving conditions on Sunday too. With advance reservations strong for December, Logan added that she’s sure it’ll be a very positive holiday season.
Steve Lambert Innkeeper/Partner at the Inn at Thorn Hill told the chamber that Thanksgiving weekend was up over last year in revenues. He explained that the inn’s three nights package with a complimentary dinner for in-house guests only helped to sell out the weekend. Steve also told the chamber that many guests were in town for some “retail therapy” and to enjoy time in the outdoors.
Jen Kovach, co-owner and innkeeper at Snowvillage Inn shared with the chamber the inn had a record Thanksgiving in the restaurant, Max’s Restaurant and Pub, exceeding last year’s revenues by 20-percent. “We did record numbers on Thanksgiving for dinner, and our rooms were booked for most of the weekend, she shared. ”It seems like people really liked the idea of the old fashion Christmas in North Conway. And of course, there was lots of great shopping and Black Friday deals for people to enjoy too,” Kovach added.
And when it came to shopping, retailers were almost unanimously happy with the turn out. For Settlers Green, the holiday shopping season started in early November with their “Bring A Friend” event and peaked in November with Black Friday and the following weekend. Laura Lemieux, Assistant Director of Marketing & Events at Settlers Green and Settlers Crossing offered a recap of the weekend in her response to the chamber. “Overall it has been a successful start to the holiday shopping season, which really started in early November with our Bring A Friend sales. Nike reported it did it best day ever for sales on Black Friday. Other stores are echoing similar positive results with Carter's coming in at the top in its district for Black Friday and strong results from Famous Footwear and Tommy Hilfiger (also among the top in their districts),” shared Lemieux.
A new phenomenon in in-store shopping is occurring at Settlers Green, explained Laura. “It’s interesting to note that at Banana Republic customers in the store are now able to purchase items online through a store associate and have items that are out of stock at the store shipped directly to their house for free.” She went on to explain, “This is a new layer of customer service that stores are able to provide. Additionally, many stores are doing mobile checkouts that help create a fluid experience for shoppers in-store. Any associate on the floor is able to assist a shopper with the merchandise and then process the sale on the spot if they are done shopping - no waiting in line. In-store experiences are evolving in a positive way,” she finished.
In North Conway Village the “Shop small/Shop local” message resonated with visitors to the Valley. The White Mountains Independents organized a number of promotional games and Plaid Friday events to steer shoppers into their member stores. Laura Cummings, owner of White Birch Books, served as spokesperson for the White Mountain Independents, saying “After talking to several members of the White Mountain Independents, the overall feeling for the weekend was very positive. Almost everyone I talked to was up, and some in significant numbers.” She went on to explain “We felt that the shop local message is really hitting home – both on the local front and nationally by way of American Express’s Shop Small campaign.” Shoppers throughout North Conway Village wore plaid, and specifically mentioned to Laura and other shop keepers that they were there to shop small on Saturday.
Laura went on to tell the chamber, “Our Shop Small and Win Big maps seemed to be a big hit. I talked to many stores and people were planning their shopping around the maps, using the game as a guideline.”
Laura shared news from other White Mountain Independent retailers telling the chamber that Rob Nadler, co-owner at Ragged Mountain Equipment in Intervale, said that the early snow has been a definite boon for business. This weekend’s business continued an upward trend that started with their very successful Women’s Night earlier in the month.
Scott Ferrari, co-owner and candy maker from Bavarian Chocolate Haus, said that he welcomed skiers and visitors who were there to attend tree lighting into the store over the holiday weekend. Scott also shared that there was a great vibe in the Valley throughout the entire weekend and people were ready to celebrate and shop and kick off the holidays and have some fun.
Lisa Spadaccini, owner of It’s My Girlfriend’s Consignment Boutique, shared that revenues were up over last year for the Thanksgiving weekend and that the cold definitely got people shopping.
While the message was positive for most, Matt Fusco, owner of The Rugged Mill, felt the cold temperatures limited his evening business as it kept people from strolling in the village and having the ski resorts open may have pulled people away from the shops. Yet Fusco is very optimistic about this holiday season and feels well positioned with a great selection and knowledgeable staff on hand to assist, says Laura.
With consumer confidence at a near 18-year high, according to NBC News, the mood is bright and the outlook for a very strong holiday season is prevalent among Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce members. For more information on visiting Mt Washington Valley, including events, lodging, shopping, dining or winter attractions, go to www.MtWashingtonValley.org. To talk to a vacation planning expert, please call 800-367-3364 (800-DO-SEE-NH). For more information on visiting New Hampshire this winter, go to www.VisitNH.gov.
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Photo: Santa gave high-fives to crowds who came to enjoy the tree lighting and an Old Fashioned Christmas celebration in North Conway Village. Photo credit: WiseguyCreative.com