Local stores hope to draw shoppers with their answer to Black Friday: Small Business Saturday

By Corene Brisendine

Cars lined the street and people peppered the sidewalk in downtown Manhattan Saturday afternoon.

Small Business Saturday didn’t draw the throngs that Black Friday did, but local businesses still drew plenty shoppers in.

“They seem to be coming in spurts — hit and miss really,” said Jessica Smith, employee at the women’s clothing store Fortuity on Poyntz Avenue.

Smith said the store would be busy for an hour and then it would slow down for about 30 minutes only to pick back up again.

Caleb Pickering, assistant manager for Brown’s Shoe Fit on Poyntz, said the customers had been coming in sporadically all day as well. He said people had been coming to pick up a particular kind of stocking stuffer: socks. Pickering said last year the store had a sale on its socks, and because it was such a “big hit” they repeated the sale again this year.

“People really like them as stocking stuffers and whatnot,” Pickering said. “The rack was stuffed full this morning.”

By mid-afternoon the 6-by-4-foot sock display had only a few pairs left.

American Express started Small Business Saturday two years ago in response to the big “box” stores’ Black Friday. The ad campaign was designed to get shoppers to buy at the smaller — and often locally owned — stores.

This year, Small Business Saturday page sported 3.1 million “likes” on Facebook, up from 2.7 million in 2011.

While shoppers did come out to shop downtown, Pickering said there were not as many customers out as he had anticipated. 

“It feels like a lazy day,” Pickering said. “I think it was too much turkey.”

Pickering said that even when he was driving to work early Saturday morning, the entire town seemed to be moving more slowly than usual.

Some shoppers who go out on Small Business Saturday do so because they do not like the big crowds on Black Friday.

Darci Blum, Manhattan, said she came out on Saturday to support small businesses and enjoyed shopping downtown where the crowds were not as thick.

“I just came out to see what they have to offer,” Blum said.

Mollie Winter, a K-State graduate visiting Manhattan for Thanksgiving, came downtown to peruse the local boutique clothing stores because they offer a variety of clothes not found in the big department stores.

Winter said she saw Fortuity on Facebook and made it a point to go while she was visiting Manhattan.

While this year’s numbers have not been counted, 103 million shoppers participated in Small Business Saturday in 2011.

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