Parade, tree lighting, herald holidays, busy retail season
Brownie Troop 541 members wave to people while riding with a Christmas tree in their car during Wilmette's annual Holiday Parade on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012, in Wilmette. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 21, 2012 4:48PM
WILMETTE — Wilmette officials, merchants and families gathered Saturday at Village Hall to see the annual holiday tree light up Village Hall’s lawn.
The next day, hundreds of people lined the streets between the Linden CTA station and downtown Wilmette to enjoy the annual Chamber of Commerce holiday parade.
The two events signaled a festive beginning to the 2012 holidays and presaged the start of the nation’s busiest shopping season, which kicks off the day after Thanksgiving.
Wilmette businesses, too, are gearing up to welcome Christmas and holiday shoppers, not only on Black Friday, but on the increasingly popular Small Business Saturday that follows.
This week, some Wilmette business and municipal representatives said they believe this year’s post-Thanksgiving shopping season could very well be cheery economically.
“Some people might think, ‘Oh, my goodness, it’s not even Thanksgiving, and it’s all started,” Merry Juell said Monday. “But we know that we need to extend the holiday season as much as possible for our merchants.”
Juell, vice president of the Wilmette-Kenilworth Chamber of Commerce, said the 2012 parade was a success with a huge turnout of enthusiastic area residents.
She believes Wilmette retailers benefit from the holiday feel engendered by decorations and lighting, because it brings more potential shoppers into the area.
“People love the decor and the lights, and it does give a kind of magical feeling to the village,” she said.
Florist Bob Hausheer, whose family owns The Morning Glory Flower Shop, 1135½ Central Ave., is a member of the Village Center Merchants group which hosted the tree lighting.
Small Business Saturday, first celebrated in 2010, is meant to follow Black Friday by urging shoppers to patronize their local brick and mortar businesses. Hausheer and other independent merchants in the Wilmette area have dovetailed their own Saturday campaigns with a national Small Business Saturday campaign undertaken by American Express.
“We ask people to think first about coming to your local stores and giving your support to them,” he said Monday. “We can provide a level of service that you might not find in the big box stores. If you can’t find what you need in the local stores, you can always visit the larger stores. We’re just saying, try your local businesses first.”
Hausheer was also cautiously optimistic about the fall shopping outlook, saying he thought retailers in general this year “were a little calmer and less stressed.”
That might have at least something to do with the 2012 national election season being over, he suggested: “No matter what side you supported, at least now you know more of what to expect in the future. It allows (businesses) to do a little more planning.”
Healthy businesses also matter to Wilmette’s bottom line; municipal officials expect to get an estimated $3.72 million in sales tax revenue for 2012. And holiday season sales probably comprise a healthy chunk of that amount, Community Development Director John Adler said Monday.
“It’s the time of year where business owners typically see their books going from red to black,” he said.
“And one of the beautiful things about our local businesses is that they bring a lot more to the table in the way of personal service than you might find in the Old Orchards or the Northbrook Courts.”