CRANBURY: A busy Black Friday bodes well for local businesses (With multiple photos)

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Robin McGuire experienced black Friday from the vantage point of a merchant for the first time. The small businesswoman opened Magnolia Gifts & Vintage

By Philip Sean Curran, Staff Writer
Highbar Boutique, a woman’s apparel store in Cranbury, was open for business Friday morning, in the start of what merchants here and around the state hope is a prosperous Christmas shopping season.
Black Friday shoppers took to the stores across the region looking for deals, buying gifts and walking off the Thanksgiving turkey they ate, at a time with consumer confidence soaring at levels not seen in more than a decade.
Robert Landau, part of the family-run Landau of Princeton, the apparel store that has been in Princeton since the mid-1950s, said it was the busiest black Friday morning “we’ve ever seen.”
Sara Brosious, manager of Nic+Zoe, a woman’s clothing store in Palmer Square, also was seeing a “really busy” start to the shopping season.
Dorothea von Moltke, an owner of Labyrinth Books, located only a few doors away from Landau’s, said she senses there is “cautious confidence” people “have about the economy.”
But things might be better than cautious. The University of Michigan said this week that its consumer sentiment index for November was at 98.5, a slight decline from October but “largely unchanged since the start of the year at the highest levels since 2004.”
“Overall, the data signal an expected gain of 2.7 percent in real consumption expenditures in 2018, and more importantly for retailers, the best run-up to the holiday shopping season in a decade,” according to economist Richard Curtin, director of the Survey Research Center at the university, in a statement.
For business owners like Ron Menapace, that is good news. He owns Homestead Princeton, on Hulfish Street, the former Farmhouse Store, and spoke after helping a customer. He said consumer confidence is “high,” in pointing to the strong stock market and housing market.
“We hope that we’re nice and busy,” said Jill Jarvis Wargo, owner of Highbar Boutique, located on Cranbury’s Main Street.
The holiday season is a “busy time,” said Janeth Arevalo, owner of florist stores in Cranbury and Hightstown. She said her business does nearly all of its business through online orders, with only a handful of walk-ins.
Robin McGuire experienced black Friday from the vantage point of a merchant for the first time. The small businesswoman opened Magnolia Gifts & Vintage, in Cranbury, in June. She is hopeful for a good end of the year and, in a nod to being customer friendly, she and other merchants in town are keeping later hours on Thursdays in December.
Alyssa Thiel is also one of the new faces on the Cranbury business scene; her store, PCB Home, opened its doors in early October. She was having a discount on Friday, something other retailers were doing black Friday.
For her part, von Moltke said this year there is a longer selling season to Christmas. Retailers have 31 days, including Friday, until the big day.
“We’re hopeful for a good season,” she said from inside her bookstore.