'Twas the morning of Christmas and all through the town, not a creature was stirring, not even a…wait, what's that? Is that business open on Christmas? While it might seem that most businesses are shuttered tight on Christmas morning, there are more than a few that are conducting business as usual on Christmas Day.
The New Hampshire-based Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel and Raft,which provides customers with Christmas Day dog-sled rides, is one such company.
"It was our core group of employees who requested that we remain open," said Karen Tolin, who, along with Neil Beaulieu, owns Muddy Paw. "As employers, we were willing to go either way based on their consensus. We do not believe in making it mandatory to work on Christmas."
But Muddy Paw's employees agreed it would be fun to work on Christmas and thought there would be a market for families looking for something unique and special to do on Christmas Day.
"The best part about keeping…open on the holidays is being able to share in families' special holiday traditions," Tolin said. "We get to watch them interact with their children and our dogs. Each moment has the glow of Christmas and it's something special to share in."
Giving back to customers
While Muddy Paw is in the business of providing customers with a special treat on Christmas, El Condor, a Chicago-based distributor and retailer of Latin American goods stays open to provide customers with the products they come to purchase all year long.
"Our store is, indeed, open on Christmas day from 8 a.m. until roughly 6 p.m.," said Edwin Romero, El Condor's owner. "We have an arsenal of seven-to-eight employees working on Christmas, myself included, whose shifts vary."
Romero said not all employees are enthusiastic about working on Christmas, but the bonus pay they receive helps make working on the holiday a little less stressful, Romero said. Romero's Christmas Day customers tend to buy groceries, foods, drinks and items for cooking their holiday meals.
Romero said being open during holidays when other businesses are closed does more than generate sales. It's also good for customer relationships.
"[We get] a reputation of being dependable, which builds a stronger rapport and loyalty with customers," he said.
Other business owners view staying open as a way to say thank you to customers who have been loyal throughout the year.
"I don't have to keep open," said Dave Greenbaum, owner of DoctorDave Computer Repair based in Lawrence, Kan. "It's my choice as a business owner. I feel like it's my way of giving back to my clients."
Greenbaum has been open for Christmas for the last eight years and has gotten at least one-or-two calls each year.
Sometimes, it's people wanting to set up a service call for after the holidays; other times it's people needing help with their new Christmas presents. Greenbaum remembers last year helping a customer walk through configuring a new iPad. He generally doesn't charge for phone consultations. He figures it's a nice service for existing clients and a good way to promote his business to people who've never done business with him before.
Greenbaum said he doesn't mind working on Christmas because he really likes what he does.
Besides, he said, "It's kind of cool helping people out on Christmas."
Sam Lazarus, owner of ServiceMaster by Best in Wichita, Kan., said his company is also open Christmas Day and responds to emergency calls for cleanup or water damage.
Most of those calls are due to water damage from broken pipes. His employees get extra pay to service customers that day, though his customers don't pay any more than they would on a typical weekend.
Lazarus said it's hard to ask employees to work on Christmas, but it's part of being in a business that helps people in emergency situations.
"In the line of work we are in, there are unexpected things constantly," he said.
Building new relationships
While some businesses are fixing home-based Christmas problems, others are in the business of getting people home.
Los Angeles-based ElJet, a private charter broker, helps customers find and book charter flights all over the world. Last year, bad weather at Christmas-time left thousands of passengers stranded and proved a great business opportunity for the company, which was open for business on Christmas.
They were called on to arrange a flight for a family headed from Massachusetts to Turks and Caicos, flew someone else from Mazatlan, Mexico, to New York and arranged a $120,000-charter flight from London to Aspen, said company president Ben Schusterman.
Shusterman said the company's valiant Christmas booking efforts were rewarded in the form of new loyal customers.
"So many of these customers told us that they had tried many companies and had no luck. We made miracles happen and they have become repeat customers. It's been a great benefit to us."
This year, though, he hopes customers will book early.
"It's been insane this year. We've had customers booking in October for Christmas and New Year's," Schusterman said.
Despite that, Schusterman said, there surely will be people who decide as late as today (Dec. 23) or tomorrow that they want to travel on Christmas and ElJet will be there, trying its best to arrange a flight.
Additional reporting by Cynthia Bunting, BusinessNewsDaily Contributor.