Hello Friends;

As promised, we’re trying to keep up with our blog posts through the “bleak mid-winter,” as the old Christmas carol puts it. Actually it’s been a pretty up and down one –  lots of snow and cold weather, followed by rain and warmer temperatures. “Global weirding,” as New York Times columnist Tom Friedman once put it. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/14/opinion/friedman-is-it-weird-enough-yet.html.

Anyway, we’re already gearing  for the coming season, which for us begins on Friday, Feb. 16, the start of the President’s week holiday. We reopen that weekend after about a month off. During that time Linda goes off to two trade shows, one in Atlanta, Ga and the other in New York City, to buy and stock up for the coming year. One down, one to go. New York is next week.

Each year brings new adventures and new challenges. This year my focus is on thinking of ways to compete with online e-commerce and especially Amazon.com. We’re all familiar with the trends and numbers and having a parcel delivered to your doorstep the next day is pretty hard to beat, when that means you don’t have to spend a few hours driving from place to place and use up time that could be spent doing other things. Of course, for many of your (I hope) part of the day’s enjoyment is precisely because you’re getting out of the house, traveling about, having new adventures and experiences, and having fun. But there’s no denying that online retailing is only going to become a bigger and bigger slice of the buy, and folks like us in the bricks-and-mortar end of things have to adjust.

Which, of course is something we’ve been trying to do for awhile. And we’ve even done our our experiment with e-commerce, with mixed results. I’d love to hear from more of you about whether that’s something you’d like our shop to offer again. Right now our focus remains on offering the best value we can in terms of price, variety and shopping experience.

Ah, there’s the key word – experience. Nothing new here either. But as competition from Amazon and others grows, we’ll be emphasizing that concept of “experience” more than ever. That’s what has always been a differentiation – not that other shops also don’t do that well, but we’ve always tried to not only make your visit here pleasurable and marked by excellent customer service, but to be an enjoyable and worthwhile part of your day.

We hope this focus makes your next trip to Christmas Days the best one yet.

One last thing – and a subject we’ll write on maybe next time – is that there’s lots of other things to do, any time of the year – here in our corner of Vermont. For some ideas, we’ll suggest a visit to Manchestervermont.com, the website of a new business organization that sprang up last year when our local chamber of commerce folded. It’s been a largely volunteer effort. The site lists and talks about the other attractions of the area and might offer some ideas the next time you have itchy feet and want to hit the road.

See you in February!