By ZOË HAGGARD – [email protected]
For many, Black Friday marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season for major retailers. But Small Business Appreciation Saturday shines a spotlight on the local mom-and-pop shops and the start of their busiest season.
And for the shops tucked into the historic downtown Shelbyville buildings, the weekend was a big hit.
“We were very busy on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, and I really appreciate everyone that came into our store. Thank you to our community for shopping local and supporting our small businesses,” said Jennifer Thompson, owner of J. Jordan Boutique.
Small Business Saturday was founded by American Express in 2010, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration official website. Previous projected spending among U.S. consumers who shopped at independent retailers and restaurants on Small Business Saturday reached an estimated $19.8 billion, according to the 2020 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey commissioned by American Express.
And even though some stores may not have experienced large crowds, the initiative still proves a way to garner sales.
“Although not lots of people, we had several large sales that made up for the difference in numbers. I believe folks are looking for quality and willing to spend for it this year. We have something for every budget,” said Billy Lowery from Lowery Jewelers.
On the other end, for Arts, Antiques, and Collectibles Mall general manager Brenda Stewart, it was their biggest Small Business Saturday ever.
Despite checkout lines that wrapped in-and-out of the isles filled with the vintage and the nostalgic, Stewart said customers were extremely patient and waited.
“We need to return to mom-and-pops,” said Stewart. The atmosphere customers get at small local shops, like the Collectibles Mall, resembles a warm, family atmosphere more than a retail store.
“I know the names of over half our customers,” said Stewart.
In addition to being the place to socialize, whether you live down the street or across the state, Collectibles is a “way of life,” Stewart said.
“If you listen to people… coming here is part of their ritual,” said Stewart.
It’s safe to say the Collectibles Mall will be sorely missed when they officially close on Dec. 30.
The mall was established by Carol Price bout 20 years ago. A major influence in the local art community, Price opened the mall as a way to support local artisans and vendors. The mall grew to encompass over 70 vendors and use about 17,000 square feet on their main floor.
Price passed away in August 2020, but Stewart, who’s been working at the mall for three years, assured the mall is doing better than ever.
Small Business Saturday came at a good time for them.
“It’s a heck of a way to go out,” said Stewart with a smile.
Even though it’s a “shame” to see it go, Stewart said she is glad to that someone else has the passion to put money and effort into the building that will give the community something to look forward to.
Having been a hardware store, tavern, and funeral home, the Arts, Antiques, and Collectibles Mall building, built around the 1880s, has history in its creaky hardwood floors and brick walls.
For example, one of the “smartest” horses, Jim Key, had his harness made when the back of the building used to be Robinson-McGill Harness Manufacturing, Stewart said.
But with a historic building comes much maintenance, and what some may call, “a money pit.”
Now, there are plans to turn the iconic building into a restaurant, butchery, and tavern to create another local flair that will be Shelbyville-unique.
“I’m glad someone sees a vision,” Stewart said. “Putting money into Shelbyville is long overdue.”