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Downtown Sycamore shops thrive during holiday season

Shari Malm, a lifelong Sycamore resident and owner of Christian Connection in downtown Sycamore, said her store’s sales doubled in December.
Shari Malm, a lifelong Sycamore resident and owner of Christian Connection in downtown Sycamore, said her store’s sales doubled in December.

SYCAMORE – Business was booming during the holiday season for a few local shops in downtown Sycamore.

Shari Malm, a lifelong Sycamore resident and owner of Christian Connection, said her store’s sales doubled in December.

“The holiday season is huge,” Malm said. “We probably couldn’t survive without it. Our customers, especially those around Christmas, help us pay the bills.”

Christian Connection, at 337 W. State St., is one of few remaining religious stores in the area, according to Malm. She said she knows of many other stores in surrounding cities, including DeKalb, that have closed in recent years because of steep drops in sales.

Malm pointed out online shopping sites, such as Amazon, have been a big hurdle for local business owners to overcome, especially during the holiday months.

“We have seen such a difference with the internet and how it affects us. People sometimes come in to look and then buy online,” she said. “It’s tremendously important to us [that] we have a strong community that supports local businesses ... without them, we wouldn’t be here.”

Following the holiday spike, Christian Connection is holding a sale on various items including 50 percent off all Christmas ornaments and boxed cards, 25 percent off Kelli’s candles and 30 percent off a select group of holiday items.

Made Just for You Gifts Inc., a gift shop located across the street from Christian Connection at 338 W. State St., also saw its busiest month in December.

“Holiday season is always a major season for us,” store owner Marcia Elliott said. “We thought the holidays were really successful. It felt like we always had a good amount of people in the store.”

Elliott said Christmas ornaments are always popular around the holidays, but added wick-less candles have been a big hit this season. The candles are produced by Finley Grace in Galena.

“The wick-less candles are made of Illinois soybeans,” Elliott said.

The weeks leading up to Christmas provided a spike in revenue for Made Just For You Gifts, but Elliott said support for local businesses was great in 2017.

“There was a huge support for local businesses,” she said. “We wouldn’t be open without those loyal customers. We definitely appreciate all the customers who come in throughout the year and the holidays.”

Success during the holiday season wasn’t limited to just gift shops.

The Confectionary Inc., a chocolate shop in Sycamore and DeKalb, also enjoyed increased business during the holidays.

“Our Christmas season was a success largely due to our devoted customers and fans,” Confectionary owner Betsy Hendrey said in an email. “It’s always a treat when a customer comes in with their children and they walk through our store reminiscing about their childhood and the candies they used to love as children.

“We believe our customers appreciate the personal touch and we are grateful for their continued support throughout the years,” she said.

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