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Limited Saturday hours can make shopping tough

Shopping in Brookhaven has long been one of its most attractive qualities, bringing travelers to the area to take advantage of a unique retail store experience.

The fact that Brookhaven has a wealth of unique, carefully grown and respected privately owned businesses makes retail a hidden gem in this town. There is, however, little consistency in the shopping hours throughout town as private businesses create their own hours.

People new to town who haven’t learned or become accustomed to the sometimes arbitrary-seeming operating hours of businesses find themselves wondering: With most shops open 9 or 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, when am I supposed to shop?

Photo by Kaitlin Mullins Shoppers browse for unique items in one of Brookhaven's many retail shops.

Photo by Kaitlin Mullins
Shoppers browse for unique items in one of Brookhaven’s many retail shops.

Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce Program Director Kay Burton said beginning Thanksgiving, as many as 30 participating stores will extend their hours until 8 p.m. each Thursday until Christmas to help solve that problem.

“It will offer a little more stability in the busy retail season,” Burton said. “And having a consistent store-hour presence will benefit shoppers [who are more active this time of year.]”

Leading up to the period of extended hours, the Chamber will host Christmas Open House on Nov. 7 and Nov. 21 when all participating businesses will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Throughout the year, however, shoppers looking to step out on Saturday must plan ahead to catch the store they want to visit when they are open as it seems Saturday hours vary a great deal from one place to the next. Some places open at 9:30 a.m. and stay open until 5:30 p.m., some open at 10 a.m. and close at 2 or 3 p.m., or aren’t open at all. Burton said sometimes when people come from out of town, they aren’t expecting stores to close in the early afternoon and are frustrated missing out.

Paula Welch at The Finishing Touch said the store does a good deal of business opening at 10 a.m. on Saturdays, though it slows down and drops after 3 p.m. until they close at 4 p.m. During the holiday season, starting around this time of year, they extend their Saturday hours until 5 p.m. Their hours Monday through Friday are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Conversely, Expectations Too employees said business picks up significantly between 2 and 5 p.m. on Saturdays. Expectations Too is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on Saturdays is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. They too will extend hours, and be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays. They say they also get a lot of business between 9 and 10 a.m.

Several Brookhaven retailers have said they hear about the pitfalls of tourists not knowing the hours of their destination boutique by heart, and they can understand those frustrations. Burton said it comes down to habits, and the most important thing is for businesses to get the word out about hours of operation.

While each store has different hours and some may be more convenient than others, most privately owned businesses in Brookhaven have a reputation for customer service.

This is one thing that hasn’t changed over the years, Burton said, and that when she first moved to Brookhaven she felt like everything closed up on Saturdays. She said in the last 15 years, businesses have added or extended Saturday hours, or have hours later than 5 p.m.

By taking advantage of events like Christmas Open House, Extended Holiday hours and Girls’ Night Out, Burton hopes to show stores that there are good shopping times besides 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.