Christmastime in Edgartown proves fruitful for merchants

Brittany Spitz (left) and Adrian Zanetti said it's been a slow holiday season at the jewelry store Alex and Ani. — Photo by Michelle Gross

On a blustery December afternoon, Sheila Allen Styles stood outside of her Edgartown Main Street boutique of the same name on Saturday, cheerfully greeting customers and passersby.

Dressed in a holiday plaid jacket and matching red scarf, Ms. Styles’s store is a hodgepodge of everything purses, clutches, and wallets to jewelry, mittens, and scarves. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, everything had been discounted at 50 percent off.

“Business has never been better,” Ms. Styles told The Times. “We’ve had to stay open until 9 o’clock some nights just to keep up with customers.”

The highly decorative and color-coded store is almost as bright and cheerful as Ms. Styles herself. Over the Christmas in Edgartown weekend, Ms. Styles enlisted the help of her daughter, Margret-Louise, to help run the store. Louise, as her mother affectionately refers to her, had just participated in the Edgartown parade earlier that day and was still wearing her tiara.

“It was a lot of fun!” Margret-Louise said. “Everyone had a good time. I really loved it.”

A few doors down, Vintage Jewelry store owner Gwenn Bukowiec and her husband, Stan, said they were enjoying another busy holiday season.

“It’s been pretty good,” Ms. Bukowiec told The Times. “In the weeks leading up to the holidays, as in past years, we get a lot of people coming around.”

“A lot of brisk shoppers,” Mr. Bukowiec said. “It’s pretty cold out there, and I’m sure that’s stopped some people, but overall we’ve been very busy.”

Asked how this year compared to seasons past, Ms. Bukowiec said business has been pretty consistent. “We get our share of holiday shoppers in Edgartown,” she said. “It’s a good location, we have an excellent selection and it’s affordable. That doesn’t hurt.”

Christina Cook, owner of The Christina Gallery and president of the Edgartown Board of trade has been keeping tabs on Edgartown merchants over the past couple of weeks.

“Our business is up for December compared to last year,” Ms. Cook told The Times. “And the handful of businesses that I spoke with gave me the same feedback.”

The Christina Gallery is unique from other local stores in that they cater primarily to an off-Island clientele, Ms. Cook said.

West Tisbury resident Marsha Winsryg opened African Artists Project, a holiday pop-up shop on Main Street that is now in its tenth year running. Selling everything from hand-sewn Zambezi Dolls to wooden carvings and jewelry, the shop is part of Ms. Winsryg’s African Artists’ Community Development Project (AACDP), a non-profit organization whose goal is to provide sustainable support to African artists and their families by buying their work and selling it in the U.S.

“The weekends are usually pretty busy,” Ms. Winsryg said. “This weekend especially.”

The pop-up opened around Thanksgiving and will close after Christmas. All of the proceeds go towards the Mama Bakhita Cheshire Center for disabled children in Livingstone, Zambia.

Some businesses aren’t faring as well as they would have hoped this season.

Co-owner of Hannah B. on Main Street, Patty Culkins said business is a little slower than she would like. “I would say we’re not as busy as we have been in the past,” she said. “Ever since the financial crisis, things just haven’t been the same.”

Ms. Culkins said bad weather could be another reason why business is slower. “The weather I’m sure has scared some people off,” she said. “Right now, we’re pretty much on trend with Thanksgiving weekend.”

Over on Winter Street tucked away in Nevin Square, jewelry store Alex and Ani has been struggling to bring in the off-Main Street crowd.

“A lot of people just don’t know that we’re back here,” store manager Brittany Spitz told The Times. “But we’re still meeting our sales goals.”

Martha’s Vineyard bangles are the hot ticket item for sale this year. “They’re really our top seller,” store clerk Adrian Zanetti said.