Jean-Marie Designs moves to new location

Jean-Marie Designs now has three times more space – the floral company moved to a new location at 25 E. Cheyenne Road.

“We were downtown for 18 years,” owner Jean-Marie Handal said. “We were in a small space, an opportunity came open to buy the new building. It was a great real estate investment.”

The company moved to be closer to some of its corporate clients, Handal said. The floral designer specializes in corporate events and weddings.

“We’re trying to increase the corporate event side of our business,” she said.

Music Exchange has a new owner

Colorado Springs’ locally owned and nationally recognized musical instrument store, the Music Exchange, changed ownership Dec. 1.

Long-time owner Russell Spaeth, who has managed the store since 1986 and purchased it in 1991, sold the business to employee and local performing musician Ed Johnson.

“Ed has been an exceptional employee and friend for many years,” Spaeth said. “He knows the business and really cares about helping musicians, from the beginning guitarist to the most knowledgeable professional. I am very pleased to have him taking the reins for this business. It will be in good hands.”

Johnson has performed in numerous working rock bands, most recently a classic rock combo, The Broadcasters.

Johnson said he has no plans to change the store.

“It’s been pretty successful,” he said. “I’ve worked here for 10 years, so I know the business. I’m planning some minor changes to the Web site, but that’s about it.”

The store is on the southeast corner of Pikes Peak and Weber streets. The Music Exchange specializes in new and vintage guitars and amplifiers. It has been visited by nationally renowned touring musicians, including Amy Grant, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Eric Johnson and bands Los Lobos and White Zombie, along with local legends Flash Cadillac & The Continental Kids.

No changes in holiday decorations

With retailers showing little new or innovative decorations, holiday shoppers will keep spending on candles, wreaths and other decorations at the same level as last year, according to research from Unity Marketing

“Last year Americans spent about $8 billion on Christmas and Hanukah decorations and they are expected to spend about the same this year,” said Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing, in a news release announcing the results of the national survey. “The reason why spending will be flat this year is simply because manufacturers have given shoppers little reason to update their decorations collections. This year there are no new ideas in the stores like we had last year with outdoor inflatables. It is new products that drive people into the stores to shop for decorations.”

While the overall Christmas decorations market is not expected to grow this year, about two-thirds of American households will still buy decorations and spend about $100 on average before the season is finished. Party decorations, tabletop centerpieces and candles will be popular decorations purchases this year.

At the top of people’s decorating list this year will be new ornaments to decorate one of their multiple Christmas trees. More Americans are setting up two or more trees, with an old-fashioned family tree in the den and more fashion-forward decorative trees in the living room, dining room, foyer and other public spaces.

“When it is time to replace a dowdy old artificial tree, people are trading up to pre-lighted trees that cost two-to-three times more than an ordinary faux tree, but they come with pre-strung lights that look better than the ones you do yourself,” Danziger said.

Internet sales remain strong in December

Online retailers are benefiting from early promotions, according to the latest Internet shopping survey conducted for

At the beginning of the month, with more than three weeks left until Christmas, online retailers are reporting increases of as much as 30 percent compared to last year’s sales, according to the survey, which was conducted by BizRate Research, a division of Shopzilla.

Online retailers increased their promotions and site tools to drive holiday sales, with many of them offering free shipping, as well as other promotions. The most popular marketing initiatives were direct e-mail marketing, search engine marketing and paid loyalty programs. Retailers are also using site tools, such as gift idea centers, suggested items and featured sales pages to draw in customers.

According to the survey, the efforts are paying off. More than 30 percent of online shoppers started shopping on the Internet earlier than last year.

“Following a strong Thanksgiving weekend and Cyber Monday, the 2005 online holiday season is off to a great start,” said Scott Silverman, executive director of in a news release announcing the survey results. “Effective marketing vehicles, desirable promotions and site features that help shoppers find the best gift seem to be the right combination for another great holiday for online retailers.”

Amy Gillentine covers retail for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.