Small business owners deemed Small Business Saturday a success for local businesses in Harrisonburg, despite the increase in COVID-19 restrictions, thanks in part to a boost in online sales.
Small Business Saturday is dedicated to supporting small businesses and communities across the country, according to American Express, which founded it in 2010. It’s celebrated each year the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
Bluetique owner Candace Shelton said that her business exceeded in sales compared to last year, with its online sales nearly tripling compared to last year’s. She said she believes the increase is because of more people shopping online for gifts this year than last year.
“We had actually planned on it being a little bit slower,” Shelton said. “We were pretty surprised.”
Even though she said she was worried that the pandemic and lack of JMU students in Harrisonburg because of online learning would cause a decline in in-person sales, Shelton said her business saw about the same number of customers coming into the store as last year.
Miranda Ebersold, owner of boutique The Yellow Button, said this Small Business Saturday was “one of our most successful small business Saturdays in all the years we’ve been open.” She said usually Black Friday is her busiest day, but this year Saturday was busier.
“Friday was a normal busy weekend day,” Ebersold said. “Saturday was just insane.”
New Creation, a faith-based non profit boutique, also saw more online sales than in-person sales at both its locations, according to executive director Sabrina Dorman-Andrew. She said that the sales increased “four times as much just with our online stores.”
Sara Christensen, owner of vintage home decor shop The Lady Jane, said she was “so swamped” after Small Business Saturday. Ebersold said she recalled seeing a line out the door of Christensen’s shop.
Dorman-Andrew said that she felt that COVID-19 was “a barrier” for people wanting to shop in person, but she said she believes shopping small is much safer. She said that while she understands people don’t want to be in crowded spaces, small businesses aren’t as congested.
“My hope is as the rest of the holiday season continues, people see that actually [there’s] less people in small businesses,” Dorman-Andrew said. “So you’re not coming into contact with quite as many people as if you would if you’re shopping at a big box store.”
Ebersold said she didn’t feel as if COVID-19 stopped anyone from coming out and supporting local businesses. She said when she looked out the window, the streets were filled with shoppers, and she saw other stores with lines out the door.
“I felt like people really came out and showed their love for small businesses this year,” Ebersold said.
Contact Eda Tercan at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more coverage of JMU and Harrisonburg news, follow the news desk on Twitter @BreezeNewsJMU