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Published: Sunday, 12/19/2010

Shoppers hunt for calendars for themselves, gifts

Calendars. They're like really slow clocks.

With the days ticking down to Christmas — days that can be torn off daily calendars, by the way — shoppers are turning to the time-honored gift that keeps giving for a full year.

Everybody needs them. Everybody has them. They're inexpensive and easily geared toward the individual taste of the recipient. Calendars are the perfect stocking stuffer.

So what are the biggest sellers this year? It depends on whom you ask, or at least what store you visit.

At the Borders bookstore in Westfield Franklin Park, supervisor Ashley Eichner said the Betty White calendars are flying off the shelves. Between her store and the Day By Day Calendar Co. kiosk in the mall's food court, which is also owned by Borders, she estimates shoppers have snapped up around 200 copies of the new Betty White calendar. The longtime television personality's recent resurgence in popularity has apparently spread to hangable wall art, making her calendar No. 1 at the West Toledo mall.

"I'm embarrassed to say No. 2 is Justin Bieber," Ms. Eichner said.

At the Calendar Club store in the Shops at Fallen Timbers, David Hartman had to move the Justin Bieber calendars away from the front window.

"Girls would walk past and see them. They'd run inside the store and take pictures of them or have their pictures taken with them," Mr. Hartman said.

That sounds like something the store would want to encourage, but then the girls — generally around junior high school age — would leave without buying anything, he said.

The Betty White calendar has not sold nearly as well at his store, said Mr. Hartman, whose family runs the Calendar Club franchise in the region. Even with people coming in to look at the Bieber calendars and not buying them, the singing heartthrob's calendars have sold their share at the Maumee mall's store. Artistic calendars are selling well there, too, and so are calendars featuring specific football, baseball, and basketball teams.

"Guys go for sports, but everyone goes for dogs," Ms. Eichner said. Cat fanciers have their calendars, too. But in the calendar world, dogs rule.

2011 calendars featuring teen heartthrob Justin Bieber have been flying off the shelves. 2011 calendars featuring teen heartthrob Justin Bieber have been flying off the shelves.
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"We have some of the obscure breeds, like labradoodles," Mr. Hartman said. "Quite a few people look for ‘pit bull' ones."

Calendars featuring specific breeds of dogs sell best, said Shannon Dukat, store manager of the Barnes & Noble bookstore in the Shops at Fallen Timbers. "But if it's cats, it's generic cats," she said.

So far this year, the top sellers at her store have been calendars depicting scenes of Ohio or nature in Ohio. Wall calendars outsell box calendars, dogs outsell cats, and, among the younger shoppers, Bieber definitely outsells the cast of Twilight.

One brand stands out among all the others, and sells well universally throughout the region — Lang calendars. Lang calendars celebrate Americana, rural life, and uncomplicated ways of living. Each of the company's 70 calendars is painted by a specific artist, and that is the secret to their appeal, according to the Wisconsin-based company's creative director, Kate Schreiber.

Most of the Lang calendars are sold to people who buy them year after year, and the customers tend to have an affinity for a particular artist, Ms. Schreiber said. Each calendar includes a biography of the artist, and several include notes of thanks from the artists themselves. This kind of loyalty leads to an astounding statistic: 70 percent of Lang calendars are purchased by the people who intend to use them, not as gifts.

Mr. Hartman said customers usually consider more than just the subject of the calendar when buying one. They also take into account where it is going to be hung. Kitchen calendars, for instance, are more likely to feature food.

One type of calendar that has not been selling well in his store, and which surprises him, are the humor calendars — the cartoons, the quips, the silly pictures. And calendars featuring various hobbies also are not moving this year.

But of course, there is still time. And if they are not needed as a Christmas gift, they tend to go on sale after Jan. 1. The later in the year it gets, the steeper the discount. But there is a limit to everything. Calendar Club, which is only open during the holidays, closes on Jan. 9. Borders stops selling calendars Feb. 1. And if you're really into procrastination, Barnes & Noble will sell them until March 1.

Contact Daniel Neman at dneman@theblade.com or 419-724-6155.



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