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At this toy shop, the kids are finally coming back

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Easter baskets with stuff animals and other goodies.

Ali Cat Toys made over 50 Easter baskets, Irene Kesselman said, with "a lot of stuffed bunnies and rabbits and lambs." Courtesy of Irene Kesselman

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Irene Kesselman runs Ali Cat Toys in Carrboro, North Carolina.

My Easter retail season was terrific. We were up last month for the first time in several months. We probably made over 50 Easter baskets. It’s a lot of stuffed bunnies and rabbits and lambs, but we also had a lot of little things too, like Easter bath bombs and some Easter jelly beans, and a lot of little trinkets that we have readily available in the store.

We offered private shopping appointments. We didn’t have as many as we did at Christmastime. However, we really felt a lot of the people were ready to come out. In fact, one customer in particular, when my employee handed her her bag, I think she said, you know, she was just so pleased that we were still around and that we were able to forge ahead during these times. And we saw a lot of that. I think we could feel that. We saw more grandparents come out. And they felt, I think, more at ease. We saw parents with their kids, which we hadn’t seen a lot of the kids in months, and clearly in a toy store, we’re used to seeing kids daily. It felt really wonderful.

We had closed during February on Sundays for a few weeks, which we had never done before. So far, April is off to a good start. And when the Easter holiday falls on an early day, as it did this time, you’re always a little bit uncertain as to how the business is going to go. Clearly in retail, if Easter is the second or third week of April, you have more time to sell. So we didn’t have that this year, but we’re still seeing in the few days that we’ve had in April, the continuity of people coming in and wanting to touch and feel things and buy a present for a newborn or, you know, now we’re selling a lot of outdoor toys and we just hope this transition continues. Because it feels great.

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