Increased sales may be attributed to successful tree lighting ceremony in downtown Mount Shasta

Whether it was the lure of  big sales or the added foot traffic from the newly expanded tree lighting ceremony, many downtown Mount Shasta businesses reported a busy Black Friday that exceeded their expectations.

“I think it was the best turnout ever,” said Anne Kline, owner of Pomodoro. “We were very busy Friday, and even busier on Saturday.”

Sales were up 30 percent at Soul Connections from Black Friday 2010, with nearly double the number of people coming in to shop, said owner Bruce Catlin.

Jane Prestegard, owner of  Directions, said the store had “a large day” that attracted a wider than usual age range. A combination of storewide sales and the newly expanded ceremony drew in more shoppers than last year, she said.

Debra Punt, owner of Alpine Originals, said she was  happy with her first Black Friday turnout. The store opened in May.

“I was so pleased they closed the street,” Punt said.?“I hope they do it again next year... it was a nice thing, with the live music, people seemed to hand around and mingle more... there was a reason to stick around.”

Nationally, approximately 226 million people shopped in stores and online during the four-day Black Friday shopping window, according to a survey conducted for the National Retail Federation. That’s an increase of 14 million shoppers from last year, according to abcnews.go.com.

Craig Grant, an employee at Village Books, said Black Friday was busy from the moment they opened until they shut their doors at 8 p.m.

Not only did they give away cup after cup of free hot chocolate, coffee and cider, as well as four different kinds of cookies, they sold lots of books, children’s toys and candy.

“It was crazy... one of the best sales days of the year,” he said.

Grant also commented this year’s festivities were more exciting than last year.

“From what I heard people say, they were happy the town went all out, and there was fun for all ages.”

Mark Geist, who owns the gift store It’s All That and More with his wife, Angela, agreed.

“Hopefully they do it again next year,” Mark said about the expanded Winter Magic celebration, which lasted from 3 to 7 p.m. “It was neat to watch the people and the kids – they were going nuts for the marshmallows.”

Mount Shasta Chamber of Commerce executive director Marie Wells said they ran out of marshmallows at 5 p.m. and served 160 s’mores to hungry children.

Though at first, the Geists were worried when foot traffic dropped off at noon when the 300 block of Mt. Shasta Boulevard was closed, things picked up in a big way around 4 p.m.

“All of the sudden, boom, it went crazy,” Mark said.

“We stayed open until about 8:30 and we were still getting people coming in,” he said.

“I?only have nothing but great things to say about the downtown celebration, and I was just watching it from the inside,” said Directions owner Prestegard. “Everything went very well, from what I could tell. It was diverse, fun, and the combination of the marshmallows, the music and the entertainment was perfect.”

The expanded event included live music, coordinated by Mount Shasta musician Paula Reynolds, a rail jam sponsored by Sportsmens Den, fire pits where kids could roast their own marshmallows, the Siskiyou Arts Bus, and other entertainment including a performance by the Mount Shasta High School cheerleaders and the Weed-based fire dance troupe Pyrate Technics.

Also reporting good sales were Suzi’s Fine Clothing and Pomodoro, which stayed open 45 minutes later than they had planned to accommodate shoppers.

“We were going to close at 7, because that’s when the event was over, but we ended up staying open longer because we were so busy,” said Pomodoro owner Kline, noting sales were up significantly from last year’s Black Friday.

Though foot traffic through the store was increased, John Kennedy Jr., owner of Sportsmens Den, said his sales were down from last year.

“Sales here are driven by the weather,” Kennedy said. “I?always compare to the year before, and last year, there was snow.”

Though sales weren’t as strong as he’d have liked, the rail jam attracted 300 to 400 spectators, Kennedy said. “That part of it was very successful.”

While adults shopped, children eagerly anticipated the arrival of Santa Claus. Throughout the day, they were treated to fresh baked cookies, courtesy of the Mount Shasta City Fireman’s Association and served by Mrs. Claus, elves, Frosty the Snowman, the Grinch and other magical characters.

Mount Shasta City Firefighter Jerry Cook said Santa’s arrival was just as exciting as usual, and somewhere between 100 and 150 kids sat on Santa’s lap.

The firefighters created an alternate Christmas tree on top of City Hall to replace the large tree traditionally lit, and the Boy Scouts provided several other trees situated around the music stage. Blow-up decorations and large lighted “snow globes” set up around the block were all provided by the Mount Shasta City Firefighter’s Association.

“The Chamber is very glad to hear things went well,” Wells said Monday morning. “I had fun working it, and if I had fun, that’s a good sign.”