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Local Businesses See Rise in Labor Day Weekend Sales

Merchants say nice weather, Village event was boon to business.

Many local merchants have reported healthy Labor Day weekend sales and traffic, crediting pleasant weather and a family shopping event for the rise.

After Hurricane Earl devolved into a tropical storm which left Long Island mostly unscathed on Friday night, business owners said the ensuing nice weekend put consumers in the mood to come out and play.

"It was a really good weekend. The nice weather brought a lot of people out," said Michele Bentivenga, co-owner of Brook House in Stony Brook.

Bentivenga said ice cream was the hottest item this weekend, while Sue Scholl, manager at Jodi Shoes in Stony Brook, said both clearance summer shoes and new fall boots were top sellers.

"We did pretty well this weekend," Scholl said. "The nice weather definitely helped."

At Bella Dolce in East Setauket, manager Corinne Zarou said it was busy – but not as busy as last year – and that the nice weather brought in lots of people looking to take home frozen desserts by the pint and quart.

At the Stony Brook Village Center, Monday's inaugural Customer Appreciation Day brought shoppers totaling in the thousands, according to a spokeswoman for the Ward Melville Heritage Organization, which manages the Village Center.

"The event was highly successful. Sales were phenomenal," said Marie Gilberti, communications manager for the WMHO.

Chip Pagano, whose wife Kathy owns Cottontails, said the store saw robust sales throughout the weekend in all departments. He is cautiously optimistic that fall will be a good season for business.

"People were very upbeat. They were spending," said Pagano, who had the chance to personally speak with many of the customers. "It almost undid what the commentators have been saying...They're talking about unemployment, they're talking about housing, but I think people around here are feeling pretty good."

Not all Three Village merchants reported the same success, however. Some Main Street businesses in East Setauket, like Precious and Pampered and Candy Land Creations, were closed on Monday and couldn't take advantage of family traffic. A handful of businesses that were open simply described their weekend sales as slow or average.

Labor Day weekend is usually a busy weekend for retailers, according to a spokeswoman for an industry group.

"Typically retailers do see a nice bump in sales during the Labor Day weekend, stemming from both last-minute back to school shoppers, people stocking up on summer clearance items, and even new fall merchandise," said Kathy Grannis, media relations director for the National Retail Federation. "It helps that many consumers have a day off of work, which oftentimes brings people into the stores during holiday weekends throughout the year."

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