Veda Lauzon picks out a vintage bulb on the Christmas tree at Fourth Street Antiques over the weekend.

Some experiencing strong sales to begin the season

TRI-CITY AREA — It’s no secret that Christmas and holiday sales are critical to a business’s bottom line.

In some cases, holiday seasonal sales can make the difference between a good year and a bad year and, in the year of COVID, that could mean shuttering one’s business either temporarily or permanently.

In the Tri-City area, business owners are wishing, hoping and praying there will be no more pandemic-related shutdowns.

Meanwhile, they are counting on greater numbers of local residents deciding to shop locally.

John and Connie Brzozowski, owners of American Tree nursery in Almont, rely heavily on their annual sales of Christmas trees, wreaths, roping and related greenery every year.

John Brzozowski said he has experienced many sleepless nights worrying about the possibility of another shutdown that would affect his business and others.

“If we were forced to close like the restaurants and bowling alleys, we could have been stuck with all those trees and greenery,” he said. “In that case, we would probably have to burn it all.”

For now, Brzozowski is grateful that American Tree remains open and that his loyal and new customers have been flocking to the location at 3903 Van Dyke (M-53).

“We are grateful for every day we are able to stay open and continue to sell the goods and services we offer,” Brzozowski said. “One thing that’s really nice about our business is that people can visit us and stay socially distanced and avoid contact with other people.

“Of course, our staff is taking all the required precautions,” he said. “We are wearing masks or shields indoors and outdoors and keeping surfaces clean to keep everyone safe.”

On Friday, Brzozowski was bolstered by the steady flow of customers looking to pick out a Christmas tree.

Among them were Mary and Don DeWilde of Capac, who said they always look forward to this time of year.

“We come here because they have a good selection, the people are friendly and helpful, and it’s close to home,” Don said. “Now we can take our tree home and get ready for Christmas.”

Tree shoppers Jordan and Chelsea said they just moved to the Almont area from Auburn Hills, and were first-time visitors to American Tree.

Accompanied by their children, Levi, 5, and Violet, 2, the couple said they were impressed with the friendliness of staff and wide selection of trees and assorted holiday greens.

“This is a great place to shop and it’s very convenient for us,” Jordan said. “We’ll be back.”

Antique search

Up the road a few miles at Fourth Street Antiques, located at 347 N. Cedar St. (M-53) in Imlay City, business owner Beth Murawski is encouraged by the volume of Christmas shoppers.

“We’re getting a lot people coming in, both locally and from out of town,” said Murawski. “And of course, I have a lot of loyal customers who keep coming

Veda Lauzon, of Kimball, said she has been frequenting Fourth Street Antiques for about 12 years.

“I continue coming here because of Beth and the unique items she sells,” Lauzon said. “I just love everything she does. She is so creative.”

On Friday, Janine Ruthenberg of Almont was joined at the store by her sister, Michele Papp of Philadelphia.

The sisters were observing their longstanding tradition of getting together for Thanksgiving.

“We’re just carrying on with that tradition,” said Papp, who had her eyes on a vintage window. “This is a beautiful store with lots of real antiques. I’m glad we stopped.”

Also marking an annual tradition were Juliet Patterson of Cass City, along with her daughters, Denise Hallwood, Donna Martin and Debbie Lauglois; AKA Mom and the Three D’s.

Speaking on behalf of mom and siblings, Denise said they were enamored with the store’s contents and charming ambience.

“This store has amazing inventory,” said Denise. “She (Murawski) has many very unique pieces, a vast selection and it’s all well displayed. We’re very glad we stopped.”

Murawski believes the store’s appeal is that Fourth Street Antiques offers a a wide selection of legitimate antiques.

“Our antiques are the real thing,” she said. “That distinguishes us from many others.”

Store hours are Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10-4; Sunday from 11-4; and closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

For further information, call Beth Murawski at 810-724-1800.

Tom Wearing started at the Tri-City Times in 1989, covering the Village of Capac as a beat reporter. He later served stints as assistant editor and editor. Today, he covers Imlay City and Almont as a staff writer. He enjoys music and plays drums and sings with various musical groups in the Detroit Metropolitan area.