Hundreds of pairs of Toms Shoes have been walking out the door of Richland's Greenies store.
Owner Darin Warnick said he has seen a significant increase in sales of the shoes this year.
Tri-City business owners such as Warnick said they have seen sales increase or stay stable compared with previous years.
Based on the stronger-than
expected start to the holiday shopping season and rising optimism that more spending was to come in the finale, the National Retail Federation earlier this month upgraded its holiday sales growth forecast to 3.8 percent, from the original forecast of 2.8 percent made in September, The Associated Press reported.
More data will be released this week that will help quantify the last-minute sales surge.
At Greenies, Warnick said sales have been about 30 percent higher compared to last year, with December about 20 percent higher than the same month last year.
And if Greenies had more Toms Shoes, he said he expects he would have sold more than the 500 pairs bought so far this year. The company donates a pair of shoes to a needy child for every pair that a customer purchases, and as of September 2010, had already donated 1 million shoes worldwide.
Warnick has carried those shoes the three years Greenies has been open, but said this year they really caught on.
More people appear to be interested in Washington-grown and -made products, said Lori Middleton, owner of Middleton Organic Specialty Foods.
Middleton and her husband, Gary Middleton, own Middleton Organic Orchards in Eltopia, growing 100 acres of certified organic apples, cherries and blueberries. A half-acre is set aside for the organic specialty foods called Savoring the Harvest that Middleton and her employees make.
It's been nice to see and hear so much about people wanting to buy local, she said. Her sales of specialty foods, which include apple butter, dried fruit, apple sauces and blueberry jam, were up compared to last year.
Sales of Prosser's Chukar Cherries also grew considerably this year, although like Middleton, Tommy Montgomery, vice president of sales and marketing, said he is still running the numbers.
Chukar Cherries offers dried fruit, chocolate and gourmet gifts online, by mail order, wholesale and in retail at the Prosser and Pike Place Market stores. The growth of those sales is exciting to see in a tight economy, he said.
"We really want to say thank you to our community," he said.
But Pasco's Fiesta Foods expects sales to be a little lower than last year for the holiday season. Juan Torres, store director, said while fewer shoppers came in the store, those who did bought more.
Right now, holiday turkey meals and tamales meals are selling well. Both are priced at $19.99, he said.
Donna Knapp, owner of Threads Consignment Boutique in Kennewick, expects this year's sales to be similar to last year's.
The store, which offers new and recycled name brand, designer and vintage clothing and accessories, moved this year from the Edison Street side of Marineland Village to the Clearwater Avenue side.
Knapp said the move has helped a little, although it did confuse some of her regular customers.
She expects a good end to the year, and said the day after Christmas was busy. Coats and designer handbags have been selling especially well, Knapp said.
w Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; firstname.lastname@example.org