Holidays made for busy businesses

Huntington Beach businesses got some cheer with their holiday season as they saw more foot traffic than usual during the last few months of 2012, according to local retailers.

Huntington Beach Chamber of Commerce President Jerry Wheeler was happy to witness businesses around the city, including those in Bella Terra, see an increase in activity compared to past years.

Though numbers have yet to be released, Wheeler predicts the growth in revenue to be minimal but increasing nonetheless.

"What we're seeing is really slow increase in sales, but I don't think people will call it a banner season," he said. "But as a shopper myself, [the stores] were really busy."

What Wheeler was surprised to see was the number of businesses that opened during the holidays.

"We did about four ribbon cuttings in the month of December. That's not generally a time to see that," he said. "I think [small business owners] are saying that even though the economy is slowly recovering, now is the time to get into the business."

One of those new businesses is Nothing Bundt Cakes, a franchise that specializes in bundt cakes.

Heather Maestas, co-owner of Nothing Bundt Cakes, had only been operating the store since late-November, but sales have been good for her during the holidays.

"We didn't really know what to expect, but we were pleasantly surprised," Maestas said. "I was busier than we expected it to be and we were busy enough to handle the business."

Maestas had about 200 customers a day during the holidays, but has seen that number drop to about 47 people, she said.

Though the half-bakery, half-boutique's numbers have slowed for the time being, it saw the most customer traffic on Christmas Eve.

"There was a line out the door for at least four hours before we came up for air," Maestas said.

Huntington Surf and Sport in Bella Terra experienced similar increases of foot traffic.

"We have a lot more products this year," said Charlotte Morrow, manager of the retail store. "We have the penny boards, which are in high demand. And the same goes for the GoPro [cameras]."

Morrow wasn't expecting business to be better during the 2012 holiday season, but customers were lining up even before the doors were open.

"I thought it was going to be like last [Christmas], which was even slower," she said.

As the holiday season comes to an end, Wheeler said he is optimistic for the year ahead.

"We're going to see more businesses open up. I know that there's some good activity going on in that respect," he said. "Entrepreneurship really seems to have taken a hold in Huntington Beach. There's just a lot of good, unique ideas. I don't know if it's the surf culture, but there's just a lot of small business activity coming and going."

Twitter: @acocarpio

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