‘Shop Small’ deals in town this weekend

Don’t want to brave large crowds at Walmart or Target this Black Friday? Kick off your holiday shopping right here in Pierce County by visiting the boutiques, antique shops and other stores located in Blackshear and Patterson.

Shop Small Saturday is this weekend, November 28, and during a COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic and economic slowdown that’s dragged on for most of 2020, hometown businesses need the support of holiday shoppers now more than ever.

“If there is one thing that 2020 has shown us, it is just how important and resilient our small businesses and entrepreneurs are to our community. More importantly is how Blackshear and Pierce County have rallied around these businesses during uncertain and unprecedented times,” says Better Hometown/Main Street Program Manager Bethany Strickland.

The Georgia Main Street Program reports for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 is returned to the local economy, and local businesses reinvest in the local economy at a 60 percent higher rate than chain retailers.

“From gift certificates to grills and candles to curios, my challenge to everyone is to continue to support this amazing movement of shopping local, stay in town for all your holiday needs and enjoy the hustle and bustle of a small town Christmas,” Strickland urges.

Chamber of Commerce Director Angela Manders has been promoting “shop local” all year in response to the pandemic. She’s encouraging Pierce Countians to take advantage of Black Friday and Shop Small Saturday deals here at home this weekend  — then keep it up all year long.

“The Shop Small campaign is great, but it needs to be an every day decision and habit, not a once a year thing,” Manders says. “To survive as a community, we must keep our tax dollars local and keep our citizens employed. It’s as simple as that. Shop local on the 28th and every day!”

The Barnard Company in Patterson is offering Black Friday and Shop Small Saturday promotions for the first time this year, partly in response to the pandemic. Assistant Manager Mary Claire Boatright is counting on more folks staying home this year rather than traveling out of town to shop.

“It’s been a crazy year … We’re just trying something new,” Boatright says. “I thought this year, hopefully, people will be staying in town to shop rather than going to Jacksonville.”

The Barnard Company traditionally hosts a Christmas Open House earlier in the season, but Boatright moved her open house promotions to coincide with holiday shopping campaigns this weekend. She’ll be offering 20 percent off Frasier Fir candles Friday morning and 20 percent off Christmas decorations that afternoon. The Barnard Company will be promoting 20 percent off Nora Fleming items Saturday morning.

Boatright scheduled the promotional sales at various times throughout the weekend to help keep crowd sizes down in the store, and the shop is offering curbside pickup, too in an effort to maintain social distancing.

Bennett’s Boutique, located inside Pierce Family Pharmacy, is prepping  — and hoping for  — lots of holiday shoppers this weekend.

“It’s been a real discouraging year. It’s an encouragement (for business owners) when you see local people come in and support you,” says Jennifer Peagler, store manager.

The boutique will hold an “early bird” Black Friday sale with giveaways Wednesday, November 25. All Pierce County Bear’s apparel, shoes and Swig cups will be 15 percent off for Shop Small Saturday.

The economic downturn has affected small businesses this year here at home and across the nation. Sixty-two percent of U.S. small businesses report consumer spending must return to pre-COVID levels by the end of 2020 for them to stay in business.

 Boatright hopes Shop Small Saturday will help her store and others in the community stay afloat.

“(It will) help keep us open and keep our money in our county. I wanted to do something to help with that,” she told The Times.

“Everybody has taken a hit. We went through months of shut down,” Peagler agrees. “Keeping your money local helps the community and supporting small businesses makes the community prosperous.”

And, shopping local provides access to unique items and a personalized shopping experience you just can’t find online or at a “big box store,” points out Scottie Johnson, new owner of Corner Market in Blackshear. Johnson, who’s been a vendor at the antique store for years, recently purchased it from Jerry and Marlene Richardson when they retired earlier this year.

“We can offer something people can’t find online  — both what the customer purchases and the shopping experience. We’re there to help them find something they’re looking for,” Johnson says. “We guide the customer through (their restoration or decorating project).”

Corner Market will be open Thanksgiving afternoon and will have specials Saturday as well. The store is already decorated for Christmas.

Shop Small Saturday was launched by American Express (yes, the credit card company) in 2010, but is a movement now championed nationwide by local officials, Main Street Programs, Chambers of Commerce and Downtown Development Authorities. The one day shopping event is dedicated to supporting local businesses and their owners who are oftentimes friends and family members to their customers. It’s a celebration of “mom and pop” shops, hometown boutiques, antique stores and more.  

Over the past 10 years consumers reported spending an estimated total of more than $120 billion at small businesses on Shop Small Saturday.

That’s $120 billion over just 10 days of shopping.

Last year, U.S. shoppers who shopped at independent retailers and restaurants on Small Business Saturday spent a record high total of an estimated $19.6 billion.

The Blackshear Times and Main Street Blackshear have joined forces this year to help promote local deals and sales for Shop Small Saturday. The Main Street program is supplementing half the advertising cost for businesses who participate in this week’s listing of Shop Small Saturday deals published on Page 8 of this week’s issue. Be sure to check out what local deals are available when making your Christmas shopping list for this weekend.