STAYING LOCAL: Stores gear up for Small Business Saturday

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HANCOCK COUNTY — This weekend marks a big day for locally owned businesses.

Small Business Saturday — also known as Shop Small Saturday — is Nov. 27, which means local retailers are hurrying to get their shops ready for what they hope will be a busy day. Coming the day after Black Friday, the annual event promotes hometown businesses as the holiday shopping season ramps up.

Many local small businesses hope it will be a day of celebration after a tough 20 months plagued by COVID restrictions, product shortages, shipping delays and staffing issues. Stores plan to offer discounts and promotions to entice shoppers.

Kevin Kerkhof, owner of Hitherto Coffee and Gaming Parlour in Greenfield, started ordering products back in September to ensure he was fully stocked when Shop Small Saturday rolled around.

“Demand is high but our product availability is low, so we’ve been working hard to beef up our inventory,” he said.

Kerkhof is hoping a swarm of shoppers will descend on his shop Saturday to snatch up special deals on brewing products, bulk coffee, board games and puzzles.

While COVID forced many small businesses to close after its onset in the spring of 2020, Kerkhof said the pandemic has actually boosted his business somewhat, since board games and puzzles have become more popular in the wake of isolating and quarantining at home.

“The puzzles and games have definitely helped see us through,” said the shop owner, who opened his business in December 2019, in the Green Meadows shopping plaza just off North State Street.

The same has been true at Hometown Comics & Games, which has seen an increase in business since the pandemic hit.

Owner Frances Hull anticipates that Shop Small Saturday will generate a lot of traffic at the Greenfield shop, which sits just south of McKenzie Road off State Street.

Global shipping issues and product shortages prompted her and her husband to order ahead this year to assure they were fully prepared for the holidays.

“As you can see we’re completely stocked up for Christmas,” Hull said on Monday, gesturing toward the packed shelves throughout her store.

Hull has long appreciated the support the community shows on Shop Small Saturday, a movement that started the year after she launched her business in 2009.

“It’s important to support the local businesses who are supporting the local community. We’re the ones who are giving back to the local charities and sponsoring local sports teams with the money we make. That’s just what we do,” she said.

Debra Smith, executive director at Greenfield Main Street, hopes the community shows up big on Saturday to support small businesses throughout Hancock County.

In downtown Greenfield, she’s planning to have food trucks set up from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Living Alley where hungry shoppers can stop for a bite to eat between store visits.

Shoppers are also encouraged to stop by the Greenfield Main Street office, at 2 W. Main St., to pick up some reusable shopping bags and enter to win prize drawings throughout the day. Those who snap a selfie at 10 participating businesses, then post them on social media, will be entered to win the grand prize — a collection of gift cards to local merchants worth at least $250.

“Shop Small Saturday is so important, especially now after all the challenges COVID brought,” Smith said.

“We’re still not back to normal yet, but some of the businesses have mentioned that their numbers are going up. They’re seeing an increase in spending. Since people haven’t been traveling or going to concerts and things as much, they seem to have a little bit more disposable income to spend, and we’re seeing that locally,” she said.

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