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Retailers Hope for a Lucrative Dickens Festival

In the current economy, a strong showing this weekend could make or break a business.

In light of the down economy, Port Jefferson retailers are gearing up for what they hope is a lucrative .

The festival, which was started 16 years ago under the watch of then-mayor , was created to give village businesses a financial stimulus.

This year’s edition of the festival begins on Friday, Dec. 2 and runs through Dec. 4. Some of the highlights include a , and a where guests are encouraged to dress in period costumes. Carolers will be traveling through the village and there will be plenty of activities designed for children.

“It means a huge influx of visitors,” said Barbara Ransome, director of operations for the . “It’s a magical atmosphere, and in addition, hopefully small businesses here do some good business holiday gift shopping. It spurs them on for the entire holiday season.”

Last year, , beating out Black Friday, the traditional shopping day when business turns around for many stores.

One store that looks to benefit from the Charles Dickens theme is

“I’m anticipating a lot of people looking for Dickens,” assistant manager Christin Funaro said. “Though mostly we sell a lot of holiday items. Kids aren’t reading Hard Times, they just know it’s near Christmas and that’s what they want.”

Ransome mentioned that a key goal of the festival is not only to bring shoppers into the local stores, but to get them to come back. It serves as a showcase to advertise the type of business that the village offers. Retaining those shoppers is of high importance.

One thing that could put on damper on the festivities is rain. With many of the activities taking place outdoors, bad weather could keep some people at home. Ransome credited the unusually warm weather last week with being a factor in the high turnout for the . The current weekend forecast at weather.com indicates that there should be only a few clouds.

One person who believes the festival may not be enough to boost business is Marge McCuen, owner of . She said that with the economy where it is, people have to cut back on their purchases, especially those who have trouble paying bills.

“It’s a nice family event, it’s a wonderful thing,” McCuen said. “We do well, but only in pockets. We have good pockets and bad pockets; the regular merchandise doesn’t always sell. It’s hit or miss, we have to see how it works out.”

John Rago December 01, 2011 at 04:03 PM
Hopefully being featured on the MTA LIRR homepage will help (http://mta.info/lirr/). The Village PR folks have done an enormous job with this festival, as have the everyone with a hand in organizing it. They should be commended.
Lon Cohen December 01, 2011 at 06:31 PM
Fantastic. It's always a great event and I'm really looking forward to covering it again this year. (And attending with my family.) At Feziwig's Dance Party at the Masonic Temple last year I ran into Andy Fortier (local musician) and he told me that if anyone wasn't in the holiday spirit before they came they certainly had to be in it after that. I thought it was a very Dickensian sounding observation. Even the worst Scrooge can't "Bah Humbug" this festival.

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