Niles retailers hopeful holiday season will be profitable one

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Area retailers think indications of what appears to be a strengthening national economy will reflect in increased Christmas sales here.
Dennis Carlson, store manager at Niles' Wal-Mart, said there are many "hot ticket" items that seem to be bringing shoppers in early.
Among the sought after items, Carlson said, are "The Lion King," "Cat In the Hat" and "Finding Nemo," children's movies that have recently been released on DVD and video.
Christmas decorations, new Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels collectors items also seem to be popular this year, he said.
That's unlike like last year, when there were few hot ticket items, Carlson said.
Carlson thinks one of the reasons people have been buying early at Wal-Mart this year, is the store's lay-a-way program.
The program allows customers to have items put aside without having to pay until a few weeks before Christmas, he said.
Carlson is positive that Wal-Mart will experience good Christmas sales this year.
But a boost in Christmas sales isn't just positive for Wal-Mart.
Carlson, who manages a store currently in the process of expanding to become a Wal-Mart Superstore, said a growing economy will hopefully open up more jobs in the area.
The Wal-Mart expansion project is expected to be finished some time next year.
Wendell Nemeth, store manager for Big Lots on Bell Road, said his store is also experiencing good sales.
That's already a few weeks before the Christmas sale rush starts on the day following Thanksgiving.
Nemeth said the store has especially been selling much of brand name toys, such as Fisher Price and Mattel.
Although happy to see reports that indicate the national economy is strengthening, Nemeth said Big Lots does OK even when the economy is down.
Nemeth thinks that's because consumers are better to seek out bargains when the economy is weak or mild.
Debbie Toman owns the Four Flags Antique Mall on Second Street in downtown Niles with her sister.
The store offers vintage ornaments, glass ware, bulbs and all kinds of decorative items.
Tomnan said it seems like people are willing to spend more money on Christmas presents this year.
Toman said an open house last weekend brought in a lot of people and the store is seeing sales they weren't expecting to see until closer to Christmas.

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