More than 20 downtown businesses encouraged holiday shoppers to keep their money local during Emporia Main Street’s 10th annual Small Business Saturday.
With clear skies drawing shoppers outside Saturday, businesses offered specials, discounts and drawings for prizes.
“We’ve seen a lot of families out and about downtown, so we’re excited to see that,” Main Street Community Development Coordinator Jessica Buchholz said. “Weather always plays a big part in it, and it’s beautiful out.”
Buchholz said Main Street likes to incorporate a fun activity during each Small Business Saturday event. This year’s event was the “Elf Scavenger Hunt,” which had shoppers hunting for elves hidden throughout participating downtown businesses to find their names.
She said the scavenger hunt — which required shoppers to fill in the names on a passport sheet — had a prize worth more than $300 on the line.
“Kids are out eagerly finding their elves and lots of people are entering into the drawings that are in each store,” she said. “We have businesses throughout the community that are hiding elves and having drawings. We thought this would be a fun idea and something new.”
With 21 elves to find, Buchholz said it was no easy task. Each business was in charge of hiding and decorating its own elf.
“Everybody has an elf that’s hidden in their store, and they’ve decorated it and stashed it away in a spot that encourages people to walk through and see some of their new products while they’re looking for their elf,” she said, adding that each participating business donated something toward the grand prize. “There’s at least $300 worth of gift certificates, plus goodies from the Sweet Granada and more.”
At Twin Rivers Winery and Gourmet Shoppe, Small Business Saturday also marked the fourth anniversary of the store’s opening, according to Co-Owner Becky Smith.
“We opened in 2015 on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, so it’s an easy anniversary to remember,” Smith said. “It’s just a wonderful day to celebrate, and it’s even a beautiful day to get out and celebrate.”
Smith had fresh-baked cookies for customers to celebrate the winery’s birthday and was offering specials with purchases throughout the day. She said she enjoys participating in Main Street events because of the support the organization gives to local businesses throughout the year.
“We’re lucky enough to have Emporia Main Street so we have events like Small Business Saturday, we have Moonlight Madness, we have the parade coming up Tuesday, and so we have a very active downtown district,” Smith said. “As a small business, that is wonderful foot traffic. It gets everybody out, and we’re such a tight-knit downtown that you really can just come down and hit all of the stores at once.”
A few blocks down at Studio 50-4, Owner Merry Whitman said she had seen a steady flow of customers into the store throughout the day.
“We’ve definitely seen an increase in foot traffic, and it’s interesting to me because we had an increase [Friday], but today is even busier,” she said. “I like the fact that people are thinking, ‘Shop downtown, shop Main Street, shop local.’”
Whitman herself was supporting another small business during Small Business Saturday — Jamie Hoyt, a certified bra fitter with Essential Bodywear, was offering free bra fittings throughout the day.
Whitman said Hoyt comes in to offer fittings at Studio 50-4 about once a month.
“I think it’s important to support local businesses, which is why Jamie and I team up,” Whitman said. “It’s a service that we don’t necessarily have in town, so we are sort of the perfect venue for that. We work out well together.”
Hoyt agreed, saying it made sense to offer bra fittings in a clothing boutique that caters to a wide-array of body sizes.
“I think it’s important to have those services and products locally, so we can all work together to keep our people shopping in Emporia,” she said. “Bra shopping is one of women’s most daunting tasks, and most stores have about 20 - 25 sizes. I have 60 sizes and I’m trained in proper fitting, so I can get the perfect fit. That’s something that, generally speaking, people were having to leave town to do. I’m happy to be able to offer that here in Emporia.”
Hoyt can be reached at www.myessentialbodywear.com/jamiethebralady or on Facebook.
Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce President Jeanine McKenna said Small Business Saturday was a great way to celebrate Emporia’s unique downtown businesses. What better way to celebrate than by roasting locally-sourced chestnuts over an open fire?
“We wanted to do something fun and different to thank people for coming out and shopping Emporia first,” she said. “We knew that there was some locally-sourced chestnuts that we could get and we thought it would just be fun to do the nostalgia of roasting chestnuts over the open fire.”
Buchholz said many downtown businesses offer extended shopping hours during the holidays, so there is still ample time to get that holiday shopping done locally. Supporting small businesses, she said, helps everyone in the community.
“We encourage people to shop small and shop local all year round, and this is just a great day to celebrate that,” she said. “I think the whole ‘shop small’ movement has really made a big impact on local businesses, and I think it has really helped shoppers recognize how important that sale is.”
The next downtown shopping event is Moonlight Madness, which will be held 6 — 11 p.m. Dec. 12. For a list of participating businesses, visit www.emporiamainstreet.com.