As they get ready for the upcoming holiday shopping season, some Hall County merchants are optimistic and say their shelves will be full for the busiest season of the year.
But not too full.
"We had to watch what we're buying and not go crazy," said Don Griffin of Frames You Nique, located on the downtown Gainesville square.
Earlier this week, Griffin was unpacking Christmas tree ornaments featuring a University of Georgia theme. In addition to his picture-framing business, Griffin has found success in collegiate merchandise, particularly for Georgia fans.
"Our suppliers get things to us faster," he said, pointing to a picture of UGA VII, the university's new mascot who was introduced just two weeks ago in Athens. He already is expecting a new print showing Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno's spectacular jump in the game with Central Michigan last weekend.
Outside of merchandise for sports fans, Griffin also is adding a line of specialty chocolates and a selection of food gift baskets.
The same is true for Shirley Gailey at Riverside Pharmacy, which has a large gift area that specializes in collectibles.
"I cut back a little bit," said Gailey, who had to purchase Christmas gift items in January at a show in Atlanta. There is a second wholesale show in July, but the most popular items are often sold out.
While her most prominent shelves currently have a festive fall look, the store's back room looks a lot like Christmas.
"We are already wrapping gifts for Christmas," she said. Some have already been picked up, while some customers hold their gifts at the store for pickup closer to the holidays. Gailey said in a typical year, the store has already sold and wrapped 500 gifts at this time of year.
In 18 years, Gailey has learned what her customers like. Some come back for the same items year after year, such as the Byer's Choice carolers. The carolers, which come in a variety of sizes, are handmade in Pennsylvania. The company adds new characters each year and retires others, making them more valuable.
But occasionally, she misjudges the popularity of an item. She bought a collection of serving utensils, such as pie servers and bottle openers, with a red-and-black theme. She thought they would appeal to both Georgia and Gainesville High fans.
The lack of sales has resulted in a 50 percent markdown to clear the space for her Christmas merchandise, which is arriving daily.
Roger Tutterow, a Mercer University economist, said the two stores are not unusual in keeping a wary eye on their inventory.
"The economy is, at best, moving sideways," Tutterow said. "With higher gas prices still taking a bite out of consumer spending, I think most merchant will be more cautious in terms of building up their inventories."
He said most retailers are hopeful of having enough inventory to more their products without too much price concession.
"Their worry is that if they overstock their inventory and product doesn't move off their shelves, they have to concede prices and that erodes their margins," he said.