With Thanksgiving over, Main Street business owners are preparing for their busiest shopping season of the year, which kicked off with Black Friday and Small Business Saturday this weekend.
While the weekend is an important one each year for businesses big and small, this year's holiday shopping season will be the first in South Dakota during which online retailers will be required to pay state sales taxes, thanks to a June ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. And while local retailers are happy about the ruling, they haven't necessarily seen much of a change in their own businesses as a result.
"I haven't noticed a whole lot about my business," said Cathy Weber, owner of the Little Red Hen. "It pretty much makes things fair across the board, regarding sales tax. It's not a new tax; it's evening the playing field for everybody."
Diane Moody, who owns Moody's Western Wear, also said she hadn't had a noticeable increase in customers, which she attributes to her prices already being fairly similar to those of online retailers. She did, however, say that it frustrates her when people either buy things online without trying them on first or come into her store just to try things on, then leave to purchase the same item online.
"It's a couple dollars difference," Moody said. "You want to say, 'Help out a local business a little bit. What's a few dollars?'"
Business owners noted that part of the reason they may not have seen a difference is because they do so much of their business during the holiday shopping season, which is just now beginning, and that they hope the Supreme Court's ruling might mean even more customers before the year's end.
Mitchell charges a 2-percent sales tax on top of the state's 4.5 percent, and the revenue from that 2-percent tax funds much of the city's operations the following year. According to annual financial statements, the amount of revenue the city has received for the general fund from sales tax has remained fairly unchanged since 2014, hovering around the $11 million mark. Between 2016 and 2017, the dollar amount of taxable goods sold in Mitchell decreased by about $4.98 million, or about 0.87 percent.
Weber said that this past weekend is always her biggest of the year, and that she expects to stay busy through January. Bonnie Kor, who owns Bonnie's deKor, has been running a sale on Christmas items since Friday, although her store's 3,000-square-foot basement filled with those items has been open since earlier this fall.
"We depend on Christmas," Kor said. "(People) start nesting. They start getting their indoors in order. So nesting is good for us."
Kor and Weber both said they were appreciative of their customers' loyalty and in the push in recent years to support patronizing small businesses through events such as Small Business Saturday.
"It's so good when you see the people re-entering the door all the time, keeping it afloat. You just can't say thank you enough."