Hudson retailers aren’t holding their breath for a sudden boom in shopping, even as holiday season begins

Holiday shopping during a recession can be daunting for consumers and business owners. Add the fear of leaving home due to an invisible virus, and things get more complicated.

After nine months of adapting and fighting to survive, Hudson County retailers say December will simply mean continuing to rely on pandemic-era customer accommodations and putting in more effort for less of a return. Plus, they’ll hope, as they do every year, that their neighbors will choose to shop local, they said.

“Even though we’ve had a rough year with all of this that is going on, there’s always people that look forward to Christmas,” said Raul Ruiz, owner of On The Ave, a clothing store in the Jersey City Heights. “December has been a good money-maker, but I wouldn’t say this year. We’ll hold on tight and we’ll see what happens.”

Customer service has always been Anne Bonner’s pride at Hoboken’s Peper & Parlor, a clothing store she opened 25 years ago. She offers gift boxes year-round with products customized to a client’s needs, all presented in a hand-painted box. And she’s always offered local delivery.

But this year has really been her time to shine, she said. Clients who never knew she offered home delivery have been purchasing that way. She’s offered shopping appointments and Facetime browsing.

And while she’s gained new customers through foot traffic who might typically spend most of their time in New York City, it’s her longtime customers who are really helping her survive the year, Bonner said.

“The reason we are going to somehow scrape through this year, it’s really about the loyalty,” she said. “People are making the decision this year to buy something locally.”

Loyalty isn’t enough for every business, though. Michael Chen, who owns Bayonne’s Manifest Comics, said he’s noticed the impact of the economic recession on many customers’ wallets.

Those who regularly shop at his store started coming when it reopened in the summer, and then they dropped off when government benefits did, he said.

Perhaps he’ll see new faces as the holidays approach, but as a father he also understands how many people avoid leaving their homes altogether as a safety precaution, he said.

“Any gains we have for people who want to shop local are probably going to be offset by people who are worried about the current surge,” Chen said.

One thing many local business owners agree on is that social media has become a key part of doing business. It’s a way to maintain a dialogue with customers even if they are mostly staying home.

“Social media’s free,” Ruiz of On The Ave said. “Everybody’s scrolling through their news feed every second.”

People are certainly still shopping, said Joy W. of Jersey City, who owns the digital store Be The Difference Clothing. Making sales is a matter of competing with Internet retail giants and having a prominent web presence is one way to do that, she said.

“I personally have not been to a mall since

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Apple’s Gift Card Offer Begins in Australia and New Zealand, Doesn’t Apply to Latest Products Like M1 Macs

Apple’s annual four-day shopping event is now underway in Australia and New Zealand, offering customers an Apple Store gift card with the purchase of qualifying products from Black Friday through Cyber Monday.

apple shopping event 2020 banner

As usual, the offer excludes many of Apple’s newer products, including Macs with the M1 chip. In Australia, for example, customers can get a $70 gift card with the purchase of an iPhone SE, iPhone 11, iPhone XR, iPad mini, any Apple TV, and select Beats headphones, with all but the iPhone SE having been released prior to this year.

Apple is also offering a gift card with the purchase of 2020 models of the MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro with two Thunderbolt ports, but this applies only to the previous Intel-based models released earlier in the year. The offer for these Macs is also limited to physical Apple Store locations, subject to availability.

Apple’s four-day shopping event begins Friday in many other regions, including the United States, Canada, and many European countries. The offer will be available at Apple Store locations, on, in the Apple Store app, or by calling 1‑800‑MY‑APPLE.

The gift card values will be as follows in the United States:

  • $150 for 16-inch MacBook Pro or 21.5-inch iMac
  • $100 for 12.9-inch iPad Pro, 11-inch iPad Pro, or HomePod
  • $50 for iPhone SE, iPhone 11, iPhone XR, iPad mini, Apple TV 4K, Apple TV HD, and select Beats headphones
  • $50 for remaining inventory of Intel-based MacBook Air or 13-inch MacBook Pro with two Thunderbolt ports, at Apple Stores only, subject to availability
  • $25 for Apple Watch Series 3, AirPods, or AirPods Pro

Apple’s terms and conditions provide more details.

Many retailers like Best Buy, Amazon, and Walmart are offering better deals on Apple products, so keep track of our Black Friday roundup.

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Michelle Mone begins the countdown to her wedding to Doug Barrowman

‘Six sleeps…’ Michelle Mone begins the countdown to her wedding to Doug Barrowman… after postponing the big day TWICE due to COVID-19 pandemic

Michelle Mone has started the countdown to her wedding day, by posting a picture of her ornate veil on Instagram and writing: ‘Six sleeps’.  

The lingerie mogul, 49, was set to marry Doug Barrowman in early Spring before the rearranged the big day to August due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

After being forced to change the date again, it seems as though she is finally set to make it up the aisle as she shared the stunning snap on Sunday. 

Six sleeps: Michelle Mone has started the countdown to her wedding day, by posting a picture of her ornate veil on Instagram and writing: 'Six sleeps'

Six sleeps: Michelle Mone has started the countdown to her wedding day, by posting a picture of her ornate veil on Instagram and writing: ‘Six sleeps’

Michelle certainly seemed excited with the latest post, which seemed to hint at her ensemble, with the stunning lace layered beneath the simple countdown. 

Back in August Michelle revealed she’d set a third wedding date, after the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to postpone their big day twice.

The star who was initially set to tie the knot in early Spring, shared a glam snap of herself on Instagram – on what would have been her rescheduled wedding date.

Captioning the selfie, which showed her standing before a waterfront setting, she wrote: ‘Today was meant to be the day Doug and I got married.

Tough times: The lingerie mogul, 49, was set to marry Doug Barrowman in early Spring before the rearranged the big day to August due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Tough times: The lingerie mogul, 49, was set to marry Doug Barrowman in early Spring before the rearranged the big day to August due to the COVID-19 pandemic

‘It’s the second time we’ve had to postpone our special day, but we’ve set a date and are more excited than ever. #ThirdTimeLucky.’

Following government guidelines amid the novel coronavirus lockdown, Michelle explained back in March that she didn’t want to risk the health of her guests and older family members at the large gathering.

The ‘disappointed’ entrepreneur said in a statement: ‘Doug and I were very much looking forward to getting married in the coming weeks but are equally aware of the need to avoid undertaking any unnecessary risks in the current circumstances. 

Delayed: The Scottish entrepreneur, 48, who was initially set to tie the knot with billionaire Doug Barrowman in early spring, before rescheduling for August 8

Delayed: The Scottish entrepreneur, 48, who was initially set to tie the knot with billionaire Doug Barrowman in early spring, before rescheduling for August 8

‘We are particularly conscious of government advice in relation to both the well-being of older family members and large gatherings of people.

‘So in line with that advice for the UK and beyond we are postponing our wedding and have set a new date. It’s been two years in the planning and of course we’re disappointed but safety comes first.’

She added: ‘I feel for everyone who is in the same situation and hope that they, like us, will be looking forward to a celebration in the future.’

Smitten: Michelle announced her engagement in December 2018 after Doug romantically proposed with a stunning eight carat diamond ring at their London home. Pictured in 2017

Smitten: Michelle announced her engagement in December 2018 after Doug romantically proposed with a stunning

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National Operation Christmas Child Collection Week begins

All week long, local churches, schools and individuals are packing Christmas gifts for children around the world.

TENNESSEE, USA — Christmas is right around the corner and this week, you can help give a gift to children around the world and it begins with a shoebox. 

Operation Christmas Child is a nationwide effort to provide kids all over the world with a Christmas gift. 

The goal is to pack shoeboxes with toys and school supplies for millions of kids. 

The mission is to give families hope. 

“Especially this year, there is so much needed in terms of offering hope and care for the children of the world,” said Knoxville’s Operation Christmas Child Coordinator Vicki Humphreys. “So, we want to be those people who do that.”

Even in the middle of a pandemic, local churches, schools, groups and individuals are working together to pack Christmas gifts from a distance.

“Some kids have never had a gift before. And it’s so good for them to have something new,” Humphreys said. “Something that’s their own and they don’t even have to share.”

The project ends Monday, Nov. 23 and it’s not too late to donate a box. 

All you have to do is grab a shoe box and decide if your gift will be for a boy or girl ages 2 to 4, 5 to 9 or 10 to 14. 

Then, you can fill it up with as many gifts or items as you can, including one ‘wow gift.’

You can also include a special note or a picture in your box.

Instructions for how to pack your shoebox are available here. 

Then, drop off your shoebox at one  of the designated drop-off sites. 

COVID-19 is limiting the number of drop-off locations this year but Humphreys said there’s at least one drop-off location in each Tennessee county.

All drop-off locations are drive-thru, so you can drop-off your boxes in a safe way. 

Volunteers at drop-off sites are also wearing gloves and masks, as well as working in small groups.

You can also build a box online on your computer, phone or tablet. 

In just a few clicks, you can select toys and other fun items.

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Demolition Begins For Iconic Birmingham Shopping Mall

BIRMINGHAM, AL — One of Birmingham’s iconic shopping malls will, by the end of the week, be reduced to a pile of bricks as demolition began Wednesday on Century Plaza, located at the corner of Crestwood Blvd. and Oporto-Madrid Blvd.

The 743,000-square-foot mall was considered state-of-the-art when it was built in 1975, but the building has been empty since 2009. A new Amazon fulfillment center will take its place, and is slated to open in the summer of 2021.

The Birmingham City Council voted unanimously in July of this year to rezone the property from CB-2 (Contingency General Business District) to Q-1 (Qualified Light Manufacturing District), paving the way for the Amazon center, which the council said in a statement would provide more than 300 jobs for the area.

According to the statement from the council, the proposed facility is designed for Amazon package delivery service. Packages arriving at this facility are prepackaged in cardboard boxes and labeled for shipping within local neighborhoods and areas surrounding the facility. The packages are brought into the facility via semi trucks, using designated loading dock positions. The model limits the number of large trucks that would arrive at the facility in order to mitigate traffic concerns.

Pelham-based Lumpkin Development purchased the mall in January of 2018 and announced “big plans” for the property, but those plans did not materialize.

In its heyday, Century Plaza included anchor stores such as Sears, Rich’s, Loveman’s and JC Penny, and later Pizitz, McRae’s and Macy’s. When it closed in March of 2009, fewer than 40 stores remained open.

The demolition of Century Plaza continues a trend in the Birmingham area that mirrors that of many cities in the country, wherein the enclosed shopping mall concept seems no longer viable.

Within a couple of years in the 2000s, Eastwood Mall and Century Plaza — both at one time busy retail centers within a block of one another — closed or changed functions.

Eastwood Mall, which was the first enclosed shopping mall in the south when it was built in 1960, was razed in 2007 and the property was used to build a Walmart and surrounding shopping center.

In October, plans were announced to re-purpose Brookwood Village, once a thriving shopping mall in Mountain Brook and Homewood.

Colliers International of Alabama and Arlington Properties submitted plans to the Homewood City Council Oct. 27 that include revamping all of the property east of Target, excluding Target, the office building, and Macy’s. The deal includes Fresh Market and the former Belk location.

The development team plans to transform the site with a mixed-use project that could include retail, restaurants, office buildings, hotels and a mix of residential options both for sale and rent, including 350 high-end apartments. The development would be anchored by an active public green space.

“Growing up in Birmingham, I’ve seen the community and its cities evolve over time, leaving the need for an inward-facing shopping mall like the one at Brookwood Village almost nonexistent,” Joe Sandner of

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Just like that, the holiday shopping season begins: Valley Views

CHAGRIN FALLS, Ohio — With a taste of wintry weather under our belts this past weekend, we know what is coming: the holidays.

Like everything else this year, they are bound to look and feel different. But, if you have presents to buy and ship and stockings to fill, it is time to get your shopping started.

A couple of upcoming events over the next few weeks can help channel your inner Santa and get you in the Christmas or Chanukah spirit. The bonus is you will be helping the local economy by supporting hometown artisans and businesses.

Nature-inspired gifts: The annual Holly Days Artisan Boutique & Mistletoe Market will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 7 and 14 to ensure safe social distancing and monitored building capacity requirements per the state’s guidelines.

Face coverings will be required for shoppers, vendors, staff and volunteers indoors and when social distancing is not possible when outdoors.

Held at The West Woods Nature Center, the dual shopping event includes handmade work by juried regional artists. And the youth Mistletoe Market will surprise and delight you. The combination of artists will offer gift ideas suitable for all budgets.

Typical selections are heirloom-worthy holiday ornaments, wreaths and other holiday décor; bath and beauty products; gourmet food and snack items; jewelry and accessories; decorative and functional pottery; and glass and wood items.

A complete list of vendors for each Saturday will be posted at under special events. The West Woods is located on Kinsman Road in Russell Township.

Sip & Shop: One way to get into the holiday “spirits” and shop local is to join the Chagrin Valley Chamber of Commerce’s shopping spree from 5 to 8 p.m. Nov. 14 in downtown Chagrin Falls. You can sample food and a variety of beverages while you shop and enjoy special discounts at participating stores.

Starting at 4:30 p.m. in the Township Hall parking lot, participants will receive a special tasting glass, a wristband, an appetizer card and a canvas shopping bag. By getting your map of stores stamped at each location, you can enter a drawing to win gift cards and prizes.

Participating stores include A Bit of Skirt, Blush Boutique, Fireside Book Store, Geiger’s Ski & Sport, Little Babet, Nouveau Vie, Popcorn Shop, Shed Boutique, Step-In, W Design, Town & Country and The Olive Scene and other shops.

From 7 to 8 p.m., participants can enjoy a complementary appetizer at one of several restaurants, including Bell and Flower, Flipside, M Italian and Paris Room.

You can also shop at home and participate online. Your glass and shopping bag will be delivered, and you can log in to shop and receive discounts. At-home shoppers can participate live on Facebook.

Face masks are required when not eating and drinking. No alcohol can be consumed outside of the participating shops. Following state guidelines, shops have reduced capacity and attendees may have to wait outside to enter.

The cost to participate is $20, and pre-registration is

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Hybrid Paris Fashion Week, both physical and digital, begins

PARIS (AP) — Christian Dior on Tuesday was the first major fashion house to stage a traditional ready-to-wear runway show in Paris since the coronavirus pandemic hit in March.

The show headlined the first full day of a hybrid-style Paris Fashion Week. A giant “DIOR”-emblazoned white annex in the chic Tuileries Gardens stood against the backdrop of the Eiffel Tower, hazy in the drizzle.

Guests were unusually relaxed, with some fashion editors commenting that it was because they had not just flown in, exhausted, from a week of covering Milan. Italy had restricted travelers coming from Paris due to the virus. At Dior, many of the Asian and American editors were missing, making this season a largely European affair. .

Paris, like Milan, is trying to kick off an unusual fashion season for spring-summer 2021. For nine days, the calendar flits between some 16 in-person, ready-to-wear runway collections, with masked guests, celebrities and editors in seated rows; around 20 in-person presentations; and several dozen completely digital shows streamed online with promotional videos.

Some show highlights:


It was serene and airy at Christian Dior. Masked guests — including a smaller-than-average sprinkling of VIPs, such as model Natalia Vodianova — were seated in church-like socially-distanced pews. On the walls, ’70s-era magazine clippings helped provide flashes of bright color like stained-glass windows. It was part of an art installation by Lucia Marcucci that aimed to transform the space into a Gothic cathedral.

A dozen singers, each behind a lectern surrounding the runway, broke into rousing a cappella singing, led by a conductor. The church was a clever theme because the congregation-style pews, sprawling by nature, allowed for social distancing without it seeming awkward in the context of a fashion show.

There was little religious in the fluid spring-summer styles. Designer Maria Grazia Chiuri took as her starting point a reinterpretation of the house’s iconic Bar Jacket — the staple of the New Look — as designed for Japan in 1957. But Chiuri’s version was loose and patterned and featured ethnic motifs, re-creating the boho mood of the ’70s.

That decade pervaded the entire collection. Patchwork on scarves, paisley patterns, long flowing fluttery skirts, and sheer silk chiffon shirts captured the exuberance of that era. So did the accessories and makeup: Silk scarves were worn like turbans, and complemented Cleopatra-style eyeliner, long gold flower pendants and plaited leather Roman sandals.

At moments, the exuberance went too far, such as a multicolored striped poncho that clashed with the delicate floral print on the bronze silk skirt. But some long embroidered cape coats that hung down regally, with silken patterned insides, more than made up for it.


The setting for Koché’s fashion show could not have been more safe during a pandemic — next to a lake outside in one of Paris’ biggest parks. The fashion-forward brand thinks outside the box for its clothes, and a rebellious spirit infused the presentation of its collection on Tuesday evening.

Pipe players

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