Community at heart of Small Business Saturday

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

Small Business Saturday will have plenty of sales, giveaways and unique gifts to complete anyone’s holiday list.

And more importantly, the money spent at locally-owned businesses benefits the community well beyond the holidays.

“Small businesses help connect the community, and they contribute to the community,” said Laura Reckelhoff, owner of Tin Lizzie’s and a board member of the Ferdinand Chamber of Commerce. “For example, we’ve done floral arrangements for homecoming at Forest Park before. We’ve put together a wreath for a raffle for Ferdinand Elementary. It’s things like that. The big box stores aren’t going to do that. But you can call your local small business and they’re happy to help out any way they can.”

Small businesses all across Dubois County are ready to welcome customers this holiday season. And they hope people will come visit on Saturday and take advantage of the day’s specials.

Eight local businesses in Ferdinand have a “Living Local” punch card that they are encouraging visitors to complete.

“You get this card at one of the local businesses, and there is eight businesses listed. You have to visit six of the eight businesses and get it initialed,” Reckelhoff said. “When you turn the punch card in to the Monastery Gift Shop, you will get a bag that has different items in it; this year’s bag includes a drink tumbler.”

The businesses will also have coupons and items on sale for the day.

Several stores in Huntingburg are also participating in a raffle-type drawing. Visitors can visit the stores and get a stamp at each, and then turn in their name for a chance to win a gift basket. There will also be sales and coupons for shopping at the stores. And some will also have refreshments for visitors.

Plans for a couple of outdoor activities had to be postponed in Huntingburg because of the rainy weather that is expected Saturday. The ice skating rink that was going to be at Market Street Park was rescheduled for Dec. 21. Santa and Mrs. Claus will come to town on Saturday, Dec. 7 as part of the annual “Christmas Journey” event. And “Comet” the Reindeer will visit Fourth Street on Sunday, Dec. 8.

Andrea Tooley, owner of Firefly Boutique and a member of the Huntingburg Merchants Association, said that merchants are still welcoming visitors Saturday with sales and refreshments.

“The big idea behind Small Business Saturday in my mind is just supporting the people in your community, she said. “When I got ready to start this business, I had so many people saying, ‘Oh good luck. We need that,’ or, ‘We want you here.’ And it’s great to say that. But if people don’t shop with you, you can’t stay in business.”

Shopping local is a great way to help out locally-owned businesses, she said.

“People want you in the community,” Tooley said. “So this is a chance for them to come out and show their support of their neighbors and the small business owners, the ones who are vested in their community and see it thrive. This is the way to support back.”

Jasper businesses are also welcoming customers. They have “Small Business Saturday” and “Local First” signs out. And they have special sales at their different stores.

Nancy Eckerle, executive director of the Jasper Chamber of Commerce, encourages people to stroll around to the different stores, window shop and go in for the deals.

“It’s all about bringing that sense of community and small-town type of atmosphere to the shopping arena,” she said. “It’s all about loving your community, loving your independently-owned businesses, not only downtown but throughout Jasper.”

It’s all about the local connections.

“When you go in the stores and they know your name and they know who you are, and you establish those relationships with the people working in the store,” Eckerle said. “And what we find here is when you go into independently-owned businesses, you meet the owner of the store. The owners are there, and those are the people that have a real vested interest in the community. Those are the ones that make the decisions about giving back to the ball teams and the Girl Scouts, all of those nonprofits that contact them about every day of the year.”

Small Business Saturday is a national drive to remind people that their locally-owned stores are also available and have an interest in their community. And more importantly, it’s those local businesses that truly support the community in local activities and endeavors.

“And I think that’s so important, to be backbone of a community in that way,” Reckelhoff said. “What if small businesses aren’t supported, if people don’t shop at small businesses, and they all would go away? I can’t imagine a world where it would only be box stores to shop. And communities that wouldn’t have any stores in them. I just cannot imagine that.”




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