In the midst of the hectic commercialism that has engulfed the weekend following Thanksgiving, specifically the Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions, a day has been designated to promote the small businesses in communities nationwide.
This includes many in Danville, where owners say they are feeling the love on Saturday.
“We have had a fair amount of shoppers expressing that they’re happy we’re here,” said Julie Nelson, owner of Maple Tree Gallery on Main Street, which has extended its hours through the holiday season.
The day, known as Small Business Saturday, began through a promotion of American Express in 2010, as a means of gaining more exposure for their small business clients. They estimate over 100 million people turned out to participate on last year’s Small Business Saturday nationwide.
Whatever the number, Danville merchants appreciate the opportunity, which has also been widely promoted by Heart of Danville.
“It’s fantastic,” Beth King said. King is the owner of Karamel Kreations, which opened in their current location at 217 W. Main in July. The day gave them a great opportunity to get their name out there.
“We ship all over the country,” she said.
Customers new and old took advantage of the day to visit local stores. Beverly Durham, who was shopping with her daughter and granddaughters, was one such new customer to A & L Accessories on Main Stree. She explained that she had been curious about the store, and decided to take advantage of the afternoon to visit.
For some, their traditions predated the day that is now set aside to patronize small businesses.
“Every Saturday after Thanksgiving, we come in and pick out Christmas decorations,” Marti Pollom said, referring to herself, her daughter, Sarah Pollom Hill, and her daughter-in-law, Sarabeth Pollom. The three were visiting Maple Tree Gallery, which they’ve done for about five years.
It’s customers such as these that keep the stores going throughout the year, many owners said.
“We rely on the community supporting us,” Nelson said.
The timing of the weekend’s events helped as well, according to King.
“It’s Small Business Saturday, it’s the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and it’s parade day,” she said, “There’s a lot of reasons to be downtown.”
Based on the bags, it was easy to speculate that many shoppers were taking the opportunity to visit more than one downtown store, Joey Harris said.
"It's kind of neat because most people that are coming in here are carrying sacks from other places," he said, which was great because "there's enough business to go around."
His wife, Ann Clay Harris, who is the owner of A and L Accessories, explained that they had remained busy the entire day. So much so that he had been "drafted" by his wife to help for the day.
Another reason some opted to shop small and local was an effort to avoid the stress that comes with going out of Danville.
“We wanted to avoid Lexington and all the crazy crowds,” Nancy McMurry said, laughing. She was shopping with her daughter Kellie at Maple Tree, and explained that they were taking advantage of the pretty day to do some Christmas shopping.