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Even in downturn, shoppers splurge on celebrations

POSTED: November 4, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Scott Rogers/The Times

Kristen Brousseau places an edible tag on a client's cake made to look like a gift-wrapped box at her Browns Bridge Road store Memorable Creations Cake Shop.

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  • Linda Orenstein of Gem Jewelry talks about customers’ spending.
Special occasions are special for a reason, and local merchants say people haven’t stopped shopping for them despite the economic downturn.

Kristen Brousseau, owner of Memorable Creations Cake Shop in Gainesville, said her business is doing better than she expected.

"I was totally shocked," Brousseau said. "I haven’t seen a decline in orders."

Brousseau makes specialty cakes and said she still is receiving orders for everything from weddings to birthdays and anniversaries.

Brousseau said she believes people still want the same things and are willing to spend the money to get them.

"That wedding cake is very important," Brousseau said. "People are still wanting to celebrate."

Brousseau said though the cost of her ingredients has increased over the last few months, she hasn’t raised prices and tries to help customers get the best deal.

For example, she suggests people who are on a budget buy round cakes or sheet cakes, which are less expensive, or pick up their cakes from the shop instead of paying to have them delivered.

Gem Jewelry in downtown Gainesville hasn’t seen customers leave either.

"We have people coming in," said Linda Orenstein, whose family owns the business.

Orenstein said she doesn’t think the economic situation is as bad as many in the media portray it.

"When people are buying $450 sterling silver baby cups, it can’t be that bad," Orenstein said.

She said those customers who have seen their income from stocks drop likely won’t be buying more expensive items right now, but doesn’t think they will stop shopping for jewelry or gifts all together.

"Unfortunately, I’m in a business that people don’t have to have," Orenstein said.

But with the holidays around the corner, Orenstein is expecting plenty of shoppers, especially those looking for engagement rings. She said Christmas is a popular time for men to propose, and she doesn’t expect this year to be any different.

"The purchase of an engagement ring is not usually a spur-of-the-moment kind of thing," Orenstein said. "If it’s someone who’s been out working, they’ve been saving up the money for several months or a year."

Brooke Garner, who is getting married Nov. 16, said she was on a budget while planning her wedding, but didn’t have to alter her plans as a result of the economic downturn.

Garner said she was able to save money by getting married during a month that usually isn’t bustling with weddings and doing some things herself.

"A lot of it was done ourselves," Garner said. "You’re going to save a lot of costs there."

One way Garner saved about $300 was printing her own invitations. She said she also had fun making wedding favors with friends.

"It looks just as good, and you’ve kind of got some of your personal touch to it, too," Garner said.



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