With the official start of the holiday shopping season on Black Friday, Bensalem Patch wanted to chat with a few local businesses to see how important this time of year is to their bottom line.
Capes & Cowls
Comic book shop owner Duke McNulty said he wasn’t sure about the holiday season.
His store, , located at 527 Bristol Pike in Andalusia, has been open for about 14 months. The store sells comic books, graphic novels, collectibles and games. You’ll find all your favorite super heroes there from Superman and Spiderman to Batman and the X-Men. For comic book aficionados, it’s a little slice of Valhalla.
“Last Christmas season we had only been open a couple months and I didn’t really have a chance to market for the holidays,” McNulty told Patch. “But this year we’re running a Black Friday sale on most merchandise with comics from as low as 25 cents.”
Currently, about 90 percent of Capes & Cowls business comes from regular customers on the store’s subscription service. McNulty pulls their favorite comic books weekly and sets them aside. His subscriptions grow every month, he said.
Teddy Wycheck, one of McNulty’s regulars, stopped by the shop on Tuesday. He enjoys D.C. comics and walks around the shop like he owns the place joking with McNulty.
When the UPS driver stopped by with six boxes full of new comics, Wycheck started to help unpack them. It’s that kind of shop.
While it’s nice to have that much regular business, McNulty hopes to grow the other 10 percent as well.
“I want to grow the business and hopefully be here for another 20 years,” he said.
McNulty opened Capes & Cowls just six months after the comic book shop on Street Road where he worked closed. When asked if it was a hard decision to open a business last year during these difficult economic times, he said the choice wasn’t easy but he’s glad he took the chance.
“I’m a lifelong comic fan and I’m still passionate about my job,” he said. “I love coming to work every day especially because the store is mine.”
Mike Gospodarek, owner of a local baseball and softball training center, said this time of year is the busiest for the pro shop side of his business.
“We see a spike in gift card sales and parents and grandparents come in looking for gifts for the ball players in their families,” said Gospodarek, who’s owned Extra Innings for three years. “If we have a strong holiday season, it can really make our year.”
The facility, located across the street from the Neshaminy Creek at 782 Haunted Lane, features multiple hitting and pitching tunnels, a training room and party area. The staff runs hitting, fielding and pitching clinics throughout the year and offers memberships.
In addition, Extra Innings has a large pro shop filled with equipment, including: bats, gloves, catcher’s gear and more. That’s where it’s busy for the holidays.
Extra Innings is holding a Black Friday clinic, during which parents can drop off the kids 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. while they go shopping. For the rest of the holiday season, Gospodarek is planning gift card specials and other sales. Check their website for more information.
As a small business, Extra Innings offers a different holiday shopping experience than the larger big box stores like Dicks and Sports Authority.
“Our place is unique in that we offer custom fittings,” Gospodarek said. “Where else can your kids have a catch with a glove or hit some balls in a cage before buying.”
Names, Names, Names
Speaking of small businesses, Larry Stahl’s stand in the is about as small as you can get. He’s his only employee.
Names, Names, Names is the name of Stahl’s kiosk. He sells personalized sports prints, family name heraldry and alphabet art. The stand is located adjacent to the Pro Image store and near other stands selling scarves, jewelry and games.
Stahl, of Westville, N.J., has run his kiosk in the mall for four years. He works it from the beginning of November through Christmas Eve.
When asked about Black Friday, Stahl told Patch it was a great indicator for the rest of the season.
“I’ve been doing this for a while so I can tell within a few percentage points how high my sales will be for the season by how much I sell through Black Friday,” he said.
Stahl said Cliff Lee gave his holiday sales a boost last year when the Phillies signed the lefthander in December.
“I had ‘Four Aces’ prints with all the pitchers’ jerseys,” he said. “They were selling like crazy.”
Unfortunately, the Phillies haven’t made a blockbuster deal like that so far this year.
But, the mall kiosk is not his only business.
“I sell my merchandise online too and run some stores in the Boardwalk Mall in Wildwood all summer,” he said, noting that the money he makes during the holiday season helps pay the bills while he hibernates from January to March.