MT. PLEASANT — Parking spaces were hard to find on Saturday morning as shoppers flocked to the downtown area to celebrate the annual Small Business Saturday event on Nov. 30.
Lisa Oetken, Executive Director of Main Street Mt. Pleasant, said the organization has been sponsoring the event for two years now. Before this, businesses participated in the Shop Small Neighborhood Champions event through American Express where retails were given a promotional materials for themselves.
For the past two years, Main Street Mt. Pleasant has gotten more involved by sponsoring Small Business Saturday, which encourages community members to shop at local small businesses. On Saturday her office was passing out canvas bags with goodies inside for those who braved the rain and wind. She said she started with 100 bags at 8 a.m. and by 11 a.m. only had six left.
Oetken said supporting small business helps keep the downtown vibrant and supports the local sales tax, which pays for things like infrastructure and law enforcement. She said by supporting the small downtown shops, people are not only supporting the community, but individuals.
“Without the community supporting our downtown, we won’t have the stores and 67 percent of what they spend here stays local,” she said, explaining she supports the big box stores in town that employ local people and pay property and sales tax, but the local businesses add a unique element. “The small businesses owners are hiring local contractors for any work they do, they shop local themselves and they employee local people so that money keeps cycling around.”
Jenn Riepe, co-owner of The Vintage Raven, said supporting the local economy is her goal with her small business. Having owned the shop for three years, she said she typically sees more traffic on Small Business Saturday.
“After Old Threshers this is our second biggest event for the downtown stores,” she said.
She said her store opened earlier and had people waiting right away to come in. Compared to a normal Saturday, Riepe said she had three times the amount of customers, with most of them being people in town.
In March, the store opened The Vintage Raven Kitten Haven and has become known not just for antiques but for the kittens up for adoption. Just for Small Business Saturday, kitten adoptions were free and Riepe said it was a success with one kitten finding a new home before lunch time that day.
Over at Perfectly Vintage, owner Lisa Kalkbrenner was celebrating her first Small Business Saturday in town. Having just opened her shop in August, Kalkbrenner said she opened two hours early just for the event.
She said there is no such thing as a ‘normal Saturday’ but estimated she had at least double or triple the business she would normally have. Having events like these help bring people in the door and create a healthy economy for downtown.
“I think it draws people in and the more the merrier,” she said.