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Slight Surge in Mother’s Day Spending Shows in Charleston |

Slight Surge in Mother’s Day Spending Shows in Charleston

It’s understandable to occasionally forget an anniversary, and it’s usually forgiven if a birthday wish is belated. But hardly anyone forgets to celebrate mom on Mother’s Day, which was reflected in the cash registers of several small businesses in the Charleston area.

The National Retail Federation released numbers in late April that showed consumers said they would spend more than ever on Mother’s Day 2017, with plans to celebrate moms with jewelry, flowers, clothing, gift cards, electronics and “special outings,” such as brunch or dinner.


For Paul Adams, who owns the local Adams Hallmark franchise with his sister, the Mother’s Day weekend out-performed the previous year and is leading 2017 in sales so far.

“We’ve had a slow spring, but Easter showed some signs of strength,” Adams said. “Our largest day is actually in July when the ornaments are premiered. We’re Christmas-based and Mother’s Day is after that.”

Adams Hallmark stores are located in Charleston, Morgantown, Huntington and Parkersburg. Adams said business at the Morgantown store has been strong throughout the past few years despite a slowdown in retail sales, and Charleston “is bouncing back.”

Adams said cards, candy and flowers are Mother’s Day staples, which his stores provide, from Sarris Candies’ seasonal strawberry cordials to locally grown flowers.

“I think probably in our business clothing and accessories are becoming more of a gift item than they ever have before,” he said. “We have more of that than we ever had before, and traditional figurines are probably waning a little bit in popularity.”

Morgan Morrison, owner of Rock City Cake Co., kept her coolers stuffed for Mother’s Day weekend shoppers, but she treated her own mom to some new clothes for the holiday.

“I don’t know how to put it, other than every holiday is a madhouse,” Morrison said.

Her Capitol Street bakery has been open since December, pumping out luscious cookie sandwiches filled with rich icing, along with featured cupcakes each day, cake balls, chocolate-dipped fruits and an array of other unique sweet concoctions.

Morrison said her Logan bakery has been open since 2013, but the Charleston location probably makes in a week what the Logan store brings in over a two-month period.

“Nothing compares to Valentine’s Day, but Mother’s Day was the busiest holiday besides that,” Morrison said. “It’s a lot of trial and error, and we have to be prepared, but it’s different from T-shirts.

“You don’t have to sell food.Food sells itself. We just give it our all, every day, and if it doesn’t sell, it doesn’t sell.”

But that hasn’t been a problem so far, with the Saturday before Mother’s Day drawing lines out the door. She prepared pre-packaged cookies and high-heeled shoes made out of chocolate then filled with chocolate-covered strawberries.

“We’ve definitely learned a lot,” Morrison said. “People wanted pre-packaged things, ready to go with a bow on top. At Easter, they wanted to pick things individually to put into baskets. At Valentine’s Day, they just wanted everything.

“Every holiday, we go for it. There’s always a reason to eat cake.”

The National Retail Federation’s annual shopper survey conducted by Prosper Insights Analytics showed Mother’s Day shoppers expected to spend an average of $186.39 for the holiday — an increase from last year’s $172.22. A total of 85 percent of consumers they surveyed expected to celebrate the holiday, for a total spending pricetag of $23.6 billion, which was the highest in the survey’s 14-year history.

“With spring in full bloom, many Americans are looking forward to splurging on their mothers,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a news release. “Retailers will be ready with a wide range of gift options and a variety of promotions for their customers.”

Around the corner from Rock City Cake Co. is Oddbird Gift Emporium, where owner Naomi Bays has been open since February 2016.

Her shop features quirky accents for the home and office, as well as fun gifts for babies, birthdays and just because.

Bays said she saw a slight rise in sales this Mother’s Day over last, but she had noticed a boost in business once April started.

With her wide variety of eclectic goods, how did she know shoppers were buying for mom?

“I can tell by what they bought — garden stuff, aprons, kitchen and dining,” she said.

The NRF survey showed the largest number of consumers who planned to celebrate Mother’s Day were expecting to buy flowers — 69 percent of those surveyed, followed by “special outings such as dinner or brunch,” with 56 percent of those surveyed.

But at Embassy Suites in Charleston, the brunch numbers seemed steady, said Melanie Linger, food and beverage director.

Embassy hosted a special brunch for the holiday, which it also does at Easter, as well as a big party for New Year’s Eve.

“In 2015, we did do Mother’s Day, and we were highly disappointed, so we did not do it last year, so it’s hard to judge … but I don’t feel like there was a spike,” Linger said. “I think a lot of it has to do with the weather also, and it was a very nice day.”

Linger said Embassy reached its goals and had about 400 guests. At Easter, the brunch hosted 500 people.

“When I first started here in 2005, Easter did well and Mother’s Day was huge,” she said. “Now it’s reversed.”

The NRF survey showed 37 percent of those celebrating the holiday would purchase clothing and 36 would purchase jewelry, with 45 percent purchasing gift cards, 15 percent buying electronics and 24 percent buying personal services, such as a spa day.

NRF’s numbers indicated the overall spending increase was expected to be driven largely by spending on jewelry and personal services, but at Geranium’s Boutique along Bridge Road in the South Hills neighborhood, owner Wendy McCuskey says dresses were the big sellers.

“Saturday was the single biggest day of the spring, and our week was really big,” McCuskey said of the day before Mother’s Day.

NRF’s survey found 24 percent of shoppers planned to buy from a local, small business, and McCuskey said people still prefer the special touches small businesses provide, such as the complimentary gift wrapping offered at Geranium’s.

“It’s been a steady climb since Easter for us,” she said. “We have to make sure we have enough inventory for what we think men might want to buy for wives and mothers.”

McCuskey, mother of a 2-year-old with another baby due in late June, said her husband made her breakfast and got her flowers and home items to celebrate the holiday.

She said she expected jewelry to be a bigger seller than it was, but June 9 will mark her first year anniversary as owner of the long-time business, so she doesn’t have a previous Mother’s Day to compare to.

“Our Christmas was a little down, I think because of the election … but spending didn’t seem to be an issue for Mother’s Day,” she said.

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