November 29, 2019
By Emily Wakeman
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) – You may be recovering from a day spent at the department stores taking advantage of all of the Black Friday deals, but this week’s kickoff of the holiday shopping season continues tomorrow with Small Business Saturday.
It’s a day to support all of the local businesses that call South Carolina home and offer products you can’t find anywhere else. Most of the businesses along Main Street, like Uptown Gifts, are locally-owned businesses serving all the community favorites that make Columbia feel like home.
“We don’t want to be like everyone else so unique giftshops like uptown… help us to add Columbia flavor to the experience that our visitors and residents have,” Martha Studstill, the owner of Uptown Gifts, said.
Uptown Gifts opened its doors in 2008. Studstill said it’s the customers that make running the store so special.
“To be able to help that individual something that makes them happy and their gift recipient happy is special,” Studstill said. “It’s special being able to be a part of the birth, or a gender reveal, or a wedding. It’s special to be a part of the special events in our customers’ lives.”
That one-on-one assistance is what many customers, like Tracy Spinney, are looking for when they come in the door.
“The staff may come over and say, ’Oh, did you know it does this?’ or ‘Did you know you could do that?’” Spinney said, “or ‘I see you’re interested in that wine opener,’ ‘Let me show you these oyster knives,’ and I can get taken into a completely different direction so I like that.”
Saturday marks 10 years of celebrating local businesses.
“One of our highlights is coming down to this street and checking out the local shops. Much more fun than having your head down and scrolling page after page of a website,” Spinney said.
Studstill said the annual day draws in a good crowd.
“Retail is interesting and the online presence of many stores and giants has not been kind to local retail so we need all the support we can get,” Studstill said.
More than 65% percent of every dollar you spend at a small business stays in the local community.
“Small businesses are really the lifeblood of the local community. They give it vibrancy. Unless you’re shopping at a big box store, you’re shopping at a local business,” Frank Knapp, Jr., the SC Small Business Chamber of Commerce President and CEO, said.
Saturday also celebrates the personal and unique shopping experience the department stores don’t offer.
“I’m going to continue to support brick or mortar and small mom-and-pops because that’s what I grew up with and that’s what I enjoy,” Spinney said.
Over the last decade, reports show that Small Business Saturday has seen more than $100 billion of sales.
Studstill said, in an age of online shopping, that support is encouraging for all local businesses who make up the fabric of our communities.
American Express started Small business Saturday in 2010. Reports showed that about 75% of shoppers are choosing to support small independent businesses in their community.