Local retailers gear up for holiday season



By Patrick Wade

Now that Thanksgiving is over and the first few flakes are starting to hit the ground, local retail stores are getting in gear for the holiday rush.

“Most of our DVDs and CDs will be on sale,” said Jeff Brandt, owner of Exile on Main, 1 E. Main St., Champaign.

“We’ve had sales, but not specifically like a Christmas sale,” he added.

This year will be different.

Exile on Main is just one downtown Champaign retail store that will be showing some holiday cheer – and getting some holiday cash in return.

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Brandt sells video games, movies and music at Exile on Main, sometimes even used records. He said gift rushers looking for the big releases that pack the stands toward the end of the year consistently bring in some pretty heavy sales numbers.

“Our best weeks of the year are definitely the weeks leading up to Christmas,” Brandt said.

But despite its proximity to campus, Exile on Main is not rushed by students looking for the newest release of the Halo video game series or Carrie Underwood’s latest CD. Most of Brandt’s clients live and work downtown, he said.

“I wouldn’t say that we’re overly supported by the students,” Brandt said.

Not like T.I.S. Bookstore, 707 S. Sixth St., which sees most of its holiday sales during finals week, said store manager Jon Tichenor.

After selling their used books back to the store at the end the semester, Tichenor said, a lot of students like to turn around and use that cash to buy a sweatshirt or a fleece.

With the University’s football team guaranteed a bid to a bowl game, maybe even a shot at the Rose Bowl, Tichenor expects sales this year to be higher than that of the past few, although it is yet to be determined what items will be on sale.

Some students, like Ashley Mattix and Erik Sanders, both juniors in LAS, like to do most of their shopping back home rather than on campus.

Mattix went shopping on Black Friday, a day as infamous as its name implies.

Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, when stores are packed by early birds looking to get a jump on their holiday shopping – and a jump on the day-after-Thanksgiving sales.

“It wasn’t really that crazy at Joliet Mall,” Mattix said.

Mattix does not do any present searching on campus.

“Holiday shopping is at home,” she said.

Sanders and Mattix both said they do a lot of their shopping at bigger retail franchises like Best Buy.

“I do some shopping before I go home on break,” Sanders said. “But most of it I do at home.”

Whether or not the shopping is done on campus, downtown or at home, one thing is clear: ‘Tis the season to be spending.