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Keeping it local: Small business Saturday good for area shops

Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times

 Stores in Grayson and Olive Hill did brisk business this past Saturday, as local shoppers turned out to support their towns’ small business owners on Small Business Saturday. Small Business Saturday, the local answer to the large retailers’ post-Thanksgiving Black Friday sales, has grown in popularity over the last ten years, and shop owners in Carter County were thankful for the turnout this year. 

Chesla Winkleman, at Unique Boutique in Olive Hill, said they had been “very busy” on Saturday. Her mother, Viola Waddell – working the cash register – said they had seen more than 100 customers come through the store since opening that morning. 

Brooke Nolen, working the counter with her mother as well at Trinity Sisters Design, said they had been “very, very busy” in their shop too. While she didn’t have an exact count available, she said the store had seen a constant flow of folks all day, most shopping in small groups of two or three. 

Down the road at Jean Marie’s shop-owner Bonnie Barker was having a good day too. 

“We had a great day,” Barker said as they were closing shop for the day. “It was steady all day and we sold a lot.” 

At Walking on Sunshine Wellness Spa & Shoppe in Grayson, co-owner Pam Howard said, between services and shop customers, she had seen around 50 customers which she said was “a big deal here.” 

Part of that was probably because of a “big half-off sale” they were advertising for the day, she said. But in addition to folks coming in to buy the jewelry, scented candles, face masks, jellies and other locally produced goods they offer, she said they were selling a lot of gift certificates for massages, aesthetician services, foot detoxes, reflexology, and other services they offer at the day spa. She said one of their most popular items, oddly enough, was the local honey. 

“Everyone wants honey,” Howard said, explaining that there is currently a shortage of local honey. 

Across the street at Rupert’s, owner Tim Wilson said they had been fairly busy. While he said he wouldn’t know until the end of the day, when they totaled out the cash registers, he felt like they had done better this year than they did on Small Business Saturday last year. 

He agreed with Unique Boutique’s Winkleman, who said she felt like more people were shopping local because of the COVID-19 pandemic – partly to support their local economies who were hurting from the earlier business shutdowns and partly to avoid the large crowds at the mall. 

“I think so,” Wilson said. “Some are staying closer to home. I think folks are shopping earlier too, and I hope it continues.” 

He said he was glad to see people taking the virus seriously, respect distancing when other shoppers were in the store, and wearing their masks, all important steps to avoid another mandated shutdown of businesses by the governor. He said he also thought people knew, when they were shopping locally with people they knew, they could trust that the stores were handling things and sanitizing properly. 

“I think people will be safe shopping with us,” he said of the steps the store was taking to keep things clean and make sure staff wore masks. “This year has been so different, (but) I believe people feel more comfortable coming in and shopping local.” 

He said they were ordering more Carhartt items to meet an uptick in demand, and that they were happy to be able to meet that need locally. 

While he said he hoped to see local shoppers continue to come in, noting they traditionally do more sales in the week leading up to Christmas than they do during special events and sales like Small Business Saturday, he said he appreciated all of his customers no matter when they came in. 

“I thank the Good Lord for the business I have,” he said. 

Contact the writer at editor@cartercountytimes.com

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