‘Shop Small, Shop Safe’ in downtown FD
Local retailers look for strong turnout this weekend
With today, Black Friday, being traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year, local small retailers are hoping to see a strong turnout of shoppers today and Saturday for Small Business Saturday.
This year, Main Street Fort Dodge has partnered with 12 downtown businesses and merchants for “Shop Small, Shop Safe” punch cards.
“For every $10 spent in downtown, they get a punch and when they hit $50 on the card, it’s full and it goes into a drawing for $150 worth of gift certificates to businesses in the downtown,” explained Main Street FD Executive Director Kris Patrick.
The Shop Small, Shop Safe event began on Monday and will wrap up on Saturday.
With the hard hit that many downtown retailers faced with COVID-19 shut downs earlier in the year, Patrick said she’s hoping more shoppers will turn out this year to help support locally-owned small businesses.
“2020 has been a very difficult year for all business owners, especially the Main Street merchants and hospitality industry, especially with the closing back in the spring,” Patrick said. “So they’re relying on that fourth quarter surge of shopping, consumerism and getting ready for the holidays to help them survive what has been a really challenging year for all of us.”
Jill Bush, owner of Rush Hour Clothing Co., 1208 First Ave. S., said she expects Friday and Saturday to be good shopping days. Bush said she’ll have bottled water and prepackaged snacks for customers and is offering a free face mask with every purchase.
“Masks have been a best seller,” she said. “Masks and buffalo plaid. What a combo, huh?”
With the shut downs earlier in the spring, Bush has had to look at alternative ways to market the clothes, jewelry and accessories her store sells, so she turned to social media. Now that she’s been able to have the store open for a while, she’s hoping that business will pick up.
“It’s been slow, so we’re just kind of hoping that people will remember all of the businesses that are trying to keep afloat here,” she said.
Real Deals on Home Decor, 329 Central Ave., is also expecting steady shoppers this weekend, owner Morgan Fitzgerald said. But it’s not just clothes, jewelry and handmade locally-made soy candles she thinks will be popular purchases.
“I think Christmas decor itself is huge this year because with COVID and everything, people are spending so much time at home and they really want their house to be pretty and enjoyable,” she said.
Real Deals is also offering “nifty gifties,” which are a completely coordinated outfit that has been sized and is already in a gift box, “so all you have to do is grab the box and put it under the tree.”
Normally, Small Business Saturday is a big day for Fitzgerald and other small business owners like her, but this year it means so much more.
“I think businesses all together have taken a hit,” she said. “This year, it’s really nice to have Black Friday and Small Business Saturday and it’s important to support your local businesses. Ordering online is easy, but it’s kind of nice to be able to see things in person too.”
Another shopping event Main Street Fort Dodge is hosting is a “cozy quarantine personal shopping day” on Dec. 6, where small groups of five to eight shoppers can sign up for a 45-minute exclusive shopping experience at participating businesses throughout the day.
“So shoppers don’t have to feel like they’re rushed and don’t have to worry about crowds,” Patrick explained.
Shoppers can find participating businesses on the Shop Local Shop Central Facebook page, www.facebook.com/shoplocalshopcentral.
Some businesses are hosting vendor fairs throughout December, Patrick said. Information can be found at the Shop Local Shop Central Facebook page.
“Shopping local is also a way to just show your support for the people that we live next door to and make sure that we’re helping them stay in business,” Patrick said.