Despite some blustery weather, downtown Aiken was buzzing with shoppers, diners and visitors during Small Business Saturday.
The buying-and-selling holiday ushered in “a nice, steady stream” of customers at 3 Monkeys Fine Gifts, according to co-owner Sallye Rich. The Laurens Street store sells home decor, jewelry, accessories and more.
“In general, Small Business Saturday is always a big day for us,” Rich said, adding that community support is greatly appreciated.
This year’s local-shopping bonanza, wedged between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, is more consequential than others.
The coronavirus pandemic has stunted the U.S. economy, and retailers, merchants and service providers have suffered; some 163,700 businesses have closed nationwide since March, around the start of the pandemic, according to a Yelp economic impact report published in September.
“This time of the year, right now from Small Business Saturday to Christmas Eve, are big, important months,” Aiken Chamber of Commerce President and CEO J. David Jameson said this week. “And, I fear some of our independent retailers are just holding on.”
The chamber launched a local shopping initiative earlier this year.
“Aiken has so many wonderful small businesses that you can support this holiday season,” reads one post on its Facebook page. “So before you go on Amazon, remember to spread some joy locally this year and #shopaiken.”
Beyond Bijoux owner Bobby Walker on Saturday said it was good to see people spending money around town – keeping the local economy humming. Business at her store, a fashion, jewelry and accessories boutique near Hotel Aiken, picked up significantly around lunchtime.
“We’re thankful for the community coming out,” Walker said.
Billions of dollars will be spent this holiday shopping season, forecasts show. “Shop small,” Rich advised.