Downtown Naples shops give tourists a gift, stay open for Christmas

Dania Maxwell/Staff 
 Nancy Mandernach, a sales manager at The Wind in the Willows, says hello to a customer entering the store on Fifth Avenue South on Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2012, in Naples, Fla. The store coins itself on being open 365 days a year.

Photo by DANIA MAXWELL, NAPLES DAILY NEWS // Buy this photo

Dania Maxwell/Staff Nancy Mandernach, a sales manager at The Wind in the Willows, says hello to a customer entering the store on Fifth Avenue South on Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2012, in Naples, Fla. The store coins itself on being open 365 days a year.

— Fifth Avenue South clothing shop owner Dianne Gunterman had planned to spend Christmas afternoon poolside until she talked with the owner of Cafe Luna across the street.

"He said, 'Go to the pool in July,'" Gunterman, owner of That's Pretty on Fifth, said Tuesday. "Better to be here than at home."

Downtown Naples retailers joined the usual array of convenience stores, restaurants and gas stations opening their doors on Christmas Day in hopes of pulling in business from tourists on holiday and locals looking to show off Naples to out-of-town guests.

Conventional wisdom among merchants who stayed open for Christmas Day holds that the holiday will be the third-busiest day of the year for downtown business owners, behind No. 1 St. Patrick's Day, when the city throws a parade at the height of tourist season, and No. 2 New Year's Eve.

Beyond the downtown Naples bustle on Christmas Day, About.com reports that nationwide some 40,000 retailers stayed open for Christmas Day, with 25,000 of them coming under the banner of Walgreens, CVS, RiteAid and Family Dollar.

The Huffington Post quoted Advertising Age as reporting that McDonald's urged its franchisees to stay open on Dec. 25 this year, noting in a memo from its chief operations officer that Christmas Day is the chain's "largest holiday opportunity as a system."

McDonald's were open all over Collier County on Tuesday.

In Naples, cash registers were ringing up and down Fifth Avenue South with shoppers looking to pick up a last-minute gift for their hosts or to take to holiday dinner.

Walking out of The Name Game, a Fifth Avenue South gift shop, Andrew Goldsmith said he was in the market for a gift for his wife, whose birthday is Dec. 29.

"I'm a little surprised (stores are open)," said Goldsmith, 48, from Washington, D.C. "But I'm glad they are."

Inside, store owner Gloria Kovacs said staying open on Christmas Day is a wise move for retailers with a premier Naples address.

"As a resort town, we just feel it's a good thing," said Kovacs, who owns the store with her husband, Gil.

It's a feel-good thing for Larry Liss, owner of The Blue Mussel gift shop on Fifth Avenue South, who has made a habit of giving his employees Christmas Day off and staffing the store himself.

"People are in a great mood, nobody's in a hurry, and they're very happy I'm open," Liss said. "It's a win-win for me."

Easter Sunday, long considered the traditional end of tourist season, comes on March 31 in 2013, making for a short season and making his biggest week of the year between Christmas and New Year's Day all the more important, Liss said.

Shoppers ambled around the racks at The Wind in the Willows too, some expressing delight that the shop was open on Christmas Day.

"They call us crazy, but we're not," assistant manager Karina Sandoval said.

For some workers, clocking in on Christmas Day is no big deal. Sandoval, who is Mexican, celebrates the holiday on Christmas Eve and on Jan. 6, which is celebrated as Three Kings Day in many Latin American countries and Spain.

A Wind in the Willows cashier, from Macedonia, celebrates Jan. 7, according to the Christian Orthodox calendar.

Staying open on Christmas Day can be a boon for business far beyond the holidays and after the last house guest has gone home because retailers might hook locals who wouldn't otherwise come downtown, said Gunterman, at That's Pretty on Fifth.

"Anytime your doors are open and people are walking through them it's advertising," she said.

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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