Area retailers bolster region’s economy

Published 2:17 pm Thursday, December 31, 2009

A steady flow of sales and a relatively strong Christmas shopping season for many Shelby County retailers has helped propel the Birmingham metro area into the economic “recovery” category.

The region, which includes Shelby County, was one of 20 metropolitan areas in the country to enter the recovery category in October, according to data released by and Moody’s

As of October, the Birmingham, Huntsville and Mobile metropolitan areas were the only Alabama regions in the recovery category. However, Alabama cities surrounding Columbus, Ga., were also on the list.

Shelby County business owners were among a rare group included in the economic recovery category, as metropolitan areas surrounding large American cities typically were considered “in recession,” according to the Moody’s list.

“In December, business was pretty fair,” said Roy Mitchell, manager of the Bed and Futon Gallery off U.S. 31 in Alabaster, as he noted business increased leading up to the Christmas shopping season.

“It picked up a little bit for the holidays,” Mitchell added.

Across town in Alabaster’s Colonial Promenade Shopping Center, Full Moon Barbecue Manager Will Cholewilski also reported a steady customer flow throughout the holiday season.

“It was all right, I’d say,” Cholewilski said. “It may have been a little bit slower than last year, but I would just attribute that to the number of restaurants that have opened up in the area over the past year.”

Fellow restaurant owner Cindy Thornton, of the White House restaurant in Saginaw, had a similar Christmas season report.

“December was fine. We stayed pretty steady,” said Thornton.

Retailers in Alabaster’s northern neighbor had similar reports.

“Well, we can’t complain,” Darrel Holcombe, manager and owner of the Amen Corner off U.S. 31 in Pelham, said of business leading up to the Christmas season.

“Christmas is always the busiest time of the year for us,” Holcombe added. “I haven’t looked at our final numbers yet, but it seemed like it was about the same as last year.”

Sean Merritt, manager of the Cracker Barrel restaurant off Alabama 119 in Pelham, also reported a “normal” Christmas season crowd.

“It was about normal during December,” Merritt added. “I’d say it was about dead on with the kind of business we saw this time last year. There really wasn’t a huge increase or decrease.”