Small Business Saturday draws praise from shoppers, local store owners


The lure of big deals was enough to draw Laurie Ensz to Mitchell's downtown businesses on Saturday.

Main Street was abuzz with traffic and shoppers throughout the day, nationally dubbed Small Business Saturday, as consumers perused what the Palace City's local businesses had to offer.

And although she doesn't make it downtown to shop as often as she'd like, Ensz said she was happy with her decision to do so on Saturday, and is thankful for local businesses.

"For them to make the investment to have a business here, we need to make the investment to keep them here," Ensz said. "Them focusing on an event, too, all together, is definitely a draw."

For Ensz, support of small businesses is personal.

The Mitchell woman soon hopes to open a thrift shop of her own in Emery, and will rely on locals' support, she said.

Many shoppers were searching for holiday gifts on Saturday, supporting the National Retail Federation's prediction that holiday retail sales in November and December will increase between 3.6 and 4 percent. If true, that prediction would meet or exceed last year's growth of 3.6 percent and the five-year average of 3.5 percent, according to the South Dakota Retailers Association.

And while Saturday was a success according to local business owners, state businesses say they anticipate the Saturday before Christmas to be the biggest shopping day of the holiday season, according to the SDRA.

Regardless, Cathy Weber, owner of the Little Red Hen, said it's encouraging to see swarms of people supporting local businesses, as was the case over the weekend.

At the Little Red Hen, employees offered a variety of drinks and snacks for shoppers and gave goodie bags away to the first 25 shoppers who spent $25 in the store on Saturday.

"If all of the local businesses went away, we wouldn't have anything, and I'm a firm believer that the downtown is the heart of a community," said Weber, who has owned the Little Red Hen for nearly 18 years. "Small Business Saturday is really gaining some momentum and it's not only a good opportunity to keep people aware of shopping local, but for businesses to say 'thank you,' because we would be nothing without our local shoppers."

Weber's testament rings true for Bread and Batter owners Jim and Kalie Corrigan.

The duo recently reopened the sandwich shop on Mitchell's Main Street, relocating from the courtyard across from the Corn Palace.

It's a move they feel they wouldn't have been able to make without the support of local shoppers.

"We had such a big local following that gave us the idea that we could be better than a seasonal business and go full-time," Jim Corrigan said. "So as much as we hope they enjoy what we do as a small, local business, we're definitely so thankful for them."