CONWAY — Between the recent announcement by USA Today’s 10Best that North Conway is one of the top two ski towns in North America and the town’s reputation for tax-free shopping and outdoor adventure, the whole Mount Washington Valley region has enjoyed good notoriety over the past month. Add in early snow and ski resorts opening by mid-November, and there have been plenty of draws for visitors to the Valley throughout November. The Thanksgiving weekend was no exception, with businesses
reporting to an informal survey from the Mt.
Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce that the weekend was strong.
“With six fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, shoppers were perhaps more determined than in past years to come to not only the perfect shopping destination, but one that’s tax-free too,” commented Janice Crawford, executive director of the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce.
“Mount Washington Valley offers a little something for everyone — 200 tax-free outlets and shops, ski resorts, indoor attractions, fabulous lodging and dining. Early season snow has added to the spirit of the season too,” noted Crawford.
The entire month of November has been very strong for Settler’s Green, said Laura Lemieux, director of marketing.
“The Bring A Friend celebration was a total hit; it was a perfect start to the holiday shopping season,” said Lemieux. “We’ve really had a great fall overall starting with a record-breaking Columbus Day Weekend for many stores and restaurants. Overall, sales were up over last year for most stores on Thanksgiving weekend anywhere from 5 to 15 percent on Black Friday. On average, traffic was up about 10 percent on Black Friday, too,” she said.
Timothy Psaledakis, owner of Jewelry by Timothy Psaledakis and Friends in North Conway Village described the weekend as “record breaking.”
“We topped all numbers for the 25 years I’ve been a jeweler in this valley,” he told the chamber. “We held our only sale of the year on Small Business Saturday, offering a stunning selection of fine jewelry. Folks drove from as far as Rhode Island and Connecticut to wait outside our door — some as early as 7 a.m. for doors to open at 10 a.m.,” said Psaledakis.
Jen Kovach, co-owner of Snowvillage Inn told the chamber the inn and restaurant were sold out over the Thanksgiving weekend. “Many guests went on a hike one day and then went into town to do some shopping on the other,” she said.
The Conway Scenic Railroad benefited from all the shoppers in the region too. “We were up 37 percent over last year’s Thanksgiving Day weekend,” Susan Logan, marketing manager at Conway Scenic Railroad, told the chamber.
“We added cars because of demand, and Friday and Saturday were essentially sold out. Sunday was up 90 percent over Sunday last year. Having more seats accounted for much of that, but I also think that, because Thanksgiving was a week closer to Christmas this year, there were more people in town, shopping and getting into the “Christmas spirit,” Logan said.
At Cranmore Mountain Resort, “we finished slightly behind last year for skiing and riding. Yet the tubing and the Mountain Adventure Park were far ahead of last year, finishing 35 percent over last year’s holiday week,” said Becca Deschenes, director of marketing.
“Last year we had a lot of natural snow on the ground, which could account for the difference in skiers. However, overall it was a great weekend, and a strong start to the season,” she finished.
And despite big Thanksgiving dinners, shoppers got hungry over the holiday weekend. Ken Donabedian, general manager of Priscilla’s Country Kitchen in North Conway, told the chamber that sales were 3 percent up over 2018 for Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the holiday weekend. He also observed that the 6-9 a.m. hours were not as busy with shoppers waiting to start a little later this year.
For more information, go to mtwashingtonvalley.org.
Marti Mayne is public relations manager for the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce.