Warwick businesses enjoy successful holiday season

| 15 Feb 2012 | 11:10

Merchants cite mild weather and buy-local efforts Warwick — It all began with the launching of “Home for the Holidays” on a spring-like Sunday, Nov. 20. With blue skies and temperatures in the mid-60s, the Warwick Merchant Guild could not have asked for a better day and that type of good weather continued throughout the holiday shopping season. Then there was the second annual “Small Business Saturday,” a campaign backed by American Express on Nov. 26. Shoppers came out in droves to the downtown business district not only on that Saturday but also throughout the entire weekend and those that followed. “Almost every business owner said that the season this year was as good or better than last season,” said Michael Johndrow, executive director of the Warwick Valley Chamber of Commerce. Considering the poor economy and all the natural disasters this past year, Home for the Holidays and Merchant Guild co-chair Mary Beth Schlichting, owner of Frazzleberries Gift Shop, was happy to report a modest increase in her store’s bottom line. “In this economy, staying even or a little above even is the new norm,” she said. 'Hometown experience’ However, Schlichting was thrilled with all the activities and the pace of business during the holiday season. “We wanted this to be more than just about stores,” she said. “Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors we were able to offer more free horse and buggy rides than ever. And with Christmas caroling, the participation of youth organizations and school groups, the decorations, the Angel tree donations and so forth, Warwick was a fun place to visit. That was the backdrop we wanted. “And lots of people, some of whom I’ve never seen before,” Schlichting added, “were shopping local.” Co-chair Debbie Iurato agreed that the Merchant Guild had worked hard to make the village a welcoming and pleasant place to come and spend the day. “It all made for a hometown experience that no mall can offer,” she said. “I think overall everyone had a successful season. And the Merchant Guild would like to thank Tarin Hackbarth and Crissy Hohmann for their help in coordinating the events on Railroad Green. We would also like to thank everyone for supporting us and we extend our very best wishes to all for a happy and healthy New Year.” Members of the Merchant Guild also praised The Warwick Advertiser for a creative holiday insert that included a whimsical map of the village with interesting landmarks and a key to the location of shops and restaurants. Shoppers at participating merchants were also given a calendar of upcoming holiday events to encourage their return on subsequent weekends. The events and special notices were also posted on Facebook. “This year we learned that more people and organizations wanted to be involved with our Home for the Holidays celebration,” said Schlichting. “And next year we will extend that invitation to everyone who would like to help make Warwick a fun place to visit. I love this town.”