Small businesses saw boost on Small Business Saturday

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
Nylan Garrett performs outside LAL Boutique in downtown Sherman as a part of Small Business Saturday.

Texoma shoppers flocked to downtown shopping districts in search of bargains and to support their local businesses this past weekend as a part of Small Business Saturday.

Many downtown businesses are reporting high sales and profits for the shopping holiday, which promotes shopping at smaller, more local retailers in each community. This season is an important one for many businesses, who have struggled or had to pivot their business model during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

"I think it is more top of mind for a lot of people right now to support local," Sherman Main Street Manager Sarah McRae said. "They support us many times and now it is our time to support them by buying our Christmas gifts locally."

This past Saturday represented the 10th annual Small Business Saturday. The event was started in 2010 by American Express as a way to highlight shopping smaller retailers and act as a counterpoint to the big-box shopping holiday Black Friday, that occurs the day before.

""I was here most of the day and there were a lot of people running around shopping," McRae said. "It was a good day."

Many downtown Sherman businesses collected their efforts into a community wide bingo game that encouraged shoppers to visit, and spend money at local shops for the chance to win gift baskets of prizes."

The game was organized and created by businessowner Sarah Richardson, who wanted to expand Small Business Saturday after lackluster results in 2019.

"Honestly, last year we were fairly new with Look A Likes and LAL Boutique as well," she said. "I was expecting Small Business Saturday last year to be a great day and be super busy, but it was not. There was not really anything going on, and it was overall a very slow day."

Shoppers pose for a photo inside LAL Boutique in Sherman Saturday during the store's Small Business Saturday promotion.

Stepping into 2020, Richardson said she wanted to organize a larger event to help generate more traffic not only for her business but also the entire downtown district.

From there, Shop Small Downtown Sherman was born.

The event started with nine participating businesses but was expanded to 20 thanks to a partnership with the Sherman Chamber of Commerce.

Wanted to change that in 2020.

"Basically what we did was gathered up as many businesses as possible," Richardson said. "I had each business donate two items of $30 value minimum."

These items were then split into baskets, which were raffled off based on entries earned through the Bingo game.

Downtown businesses were also asked to extend their hours and decorate for the holiday. Some even offered snacks and drinks to visitors to their shops.

The event appears to have been a hit with shoppers, with Small Business Saturday representing the fourth biggest sales of the year.

Richardson said she has since received positive feedback from several businesses and shoppers alike.

"I had people come in and said they pretty much had the best day ever," she said. "And I am glad for that, because that's what we wanted to do."

For many businesses, Saturday was an important day. Following months where some businesses made no income due to the pandemic, it was vital that retailers had a good start to the holiday shopping season.

"We have had a hard year," Richardson said. "There were several small business owners who had to close down for several months and didn't get a paycheck, that had employees that they had to let go. This is their livelihoods, so it was absolutely vital."

Meanwhile in Denison, Elsie Russell with 2 Chicks home and Market said her sales on Saturday increased 38 percent compared to the previous Small Business Saturday.

"I didn't think it would happen, but did did," she said. "I am glad that the village showed up to support us."

While many retailers saw a significant portion of their weekend shopping in the form of online purchases with in-store pick up, Russell said her store was mostly traditional shopping.

"We had the specialty foods, and we have the paint lines," she said. "So we had things that we normally do not put on sale, on sale."

"If I didn't know we were in a pandemic, I would have thought it was any other Small Business Saturday," she added.