Local store sales high during Small Business Saturday

REED CITY — Shoppers could be seen walking the streets of downtown Reed City and Big Rapids carrying bags of items for themselves and others during Small Business Saturday, a day which encourages residents to visit and shop at locally-owned businesses instead of national chain stores.

Shops in Reed City had success on Small Business Saturday, thanks to the Evergreen Festival which brings in hundreds to enjoy the parade and take their children to see Santa Claus.

"We've been really busy today," said Nica's Boutique employee Taylor Holmes. "Saturdays are one of our busier days, but I've noticed it's busier today because of the festival and because more people are here in town. They want to see what we have to offer."

Holmes said shoppers were picking up sweaters, scarves and purses during the day, and was happy to see people out and about on Small Business Saturday.

"The day gets our name out there and it's good for business," she added. "It definitely brings in more people for us. People should shop small because you can usually find better deals at local places, too."

In Big Rapids, The Old Pioneer Store and Emporium was buzzing with activity on Saturday, as shoppers of all ages browsed through gift items and Christmas-themed decorations throughout the shop.

"Today has been busier than yesterday," said owner Carlleen Rose. "We just had our Christmas open house and we got a lot of new shipments in to surprise people with new items."

Hot items this year, Rose said, were Christmas ornaments, jewelry and fuzzy slippers. Seeing shoppers enjoy the store and take time to visit a local business means a lot to her because it shows a partnership between the people and store owners.

Among many shoppers were Grand Rapids resident Mary Dalton and her niece Sarah Stengel, from Indianapolis. The pair have been in the area for the past week on vacation and chose to shop in Big Rapids on Small Business Saturday. Dalton is a Big Rapids native and frequently commutes to the city to shop.

"I like shopping small because local businesses have a slower pace, they're friendlier and way more relaxed," Dalton said. "I like to support the town even though I don't live here anymore."

Local stores such as the Old Pioneer and Emporium contribute to the economy, help assist with local events, support the community's tax base and employ its residents, Rose added.

"It's important to shop local to keep the community unique. The heart of America is small business," she said. "The community makes the choice if they want the diversity of stores and we're lucky our community has supported its local businesses."