| Hattiesburg American
WATCH: Why shopping at small businesses matters
Blooms owner Adrienne Hicks talks about adapting her small business to COVID-19 and reasons why it’s important to shop local.
Small, locally owned businesses bring unique offerings to the table when it comes to holiday shopping.
And the retailers often kick things up a few notches to welcome shoppers to their stores.
Hattiesburg-area stores are planning to continue the tradition this year, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Forrest and Lamar counties remain under a mask mandate until Dec. 11, but Small Business Saturday will go on as planned. Social distancing and sanitation protocols also will be in place to keep shoppers safe.
The event, developed in 2010 by American Express in 2010, follows Black Friday — a day for big discounts on popular holiday gift items.
Small Business Saturday encourages consumers to continue their post-Thanksgiving shopping spree by patronizing locally owned shops to give them an economic boost.
Adrienne Garanich, owner of Blooms: A Garden Shop, said the event is a good reminder for people to get out and support local businesses — but for shop owners, it’s all about the customers.
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“For Small Business Saturday, we always try to have a key feature — like at the top of the hour do some sort of demonstration or talk so whoever’s in-store can get a glimpse of where we’re trending or where we’re moving,” she said. “We’ll have holiday things set up with different ideas, like how things go together or color trends or tips for decorating for the holidays.”
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Garanich said she also hopes customers will take advantage of the interactive shopping experience and take away something more than what they purchased.
“We want them to experience something,” she said. “We want them to be inspired. We want them to connect. We want them to create.”
In addition, downtown retailers work together to show customers what other shops have to offer.
“We partner with other businesses to have hors d’oeuvres and drinks out for customers,” Garanich said.
Jennifer McKay, who owns The Kitchen Table in the Midtown District, said her store will be open for the event, and will have samples and may have a few demonstrations for customers, but doesn’t have a lot of other activities planned for the day.
The store also held its holiday open house Nov. 13-14.
“It’s all about supporting small and local,” McKay said.
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Andrea Saffle, executive director of Downtown Hattiesburg Association, said Small Business Saturday is an event downtown merchants look forward to every year.
“We are excited for a ‘shop small’ experience just in time for the holiday season,” Saffle said. “We hope this will be a time for customers and businesses to come together, allowing holiday shopping money to stay within the community and residents and visitors to enjoy unique and, often, one-of-a-kind gifts for everyone on their list.”
Small Business Saturday activities will be from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. throughout the downtown area.
Other downtown retailers participating include Walnut Square Gifts and Stationery, Main Street Books, McKenzie’s on Main, Twin Forks Wine and Provisions (curbside only), Sack’s Outdoors, Your CBD Store and Go Young Fashions.
Also downtown during Small Business Saturday will be the annual Pine Belt Holiday Expo and Christmas Market at the Hattiesburg train depot, which expands the concept by offering visitors more shopping opportunities with local vendors in an indoor/outdoor marketplace.
The expo will be from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Admission is free.
In Petal, the shopping experience began earlier in November with the city’s annual Shop Petal First event Nov. 19-22, with special sales, door prizes and other perks for customers.
Contact Lici Beveridge at 601-584-3104 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @licibev or Facebook at facebook.com/licibeveridge.