Thu, April 25, 2024

Small businesses hope shoppers think local for Christmas joy

CSRA small businesses hope shoppers will remember the old saying, “Home is where the heart is,” and support local merchants this season.

The biggest shopping day of the year is Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when the Christmas shopping season officially begins. Traditionally, shoppers head to the big box stores to score bargains.

But a day later, the spotlight turns to small, local businesses for Small Business Saturday.

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More than a dozen businesses in downtown Augusta will participate in the third annual Small Business Saturday (SBS) Crawl, sponsored by Downtown Soul City.

Jennifer Tinsley, owner of FIELD Botanicals and Chair of the local merchant association Downtown Soul City, said the 14 merchants will have fantastic sales and unique activities.

“It’s all about shopping local, away from the craziness of the big box stores, supporting the small businesses that make our downtown fun and unique, and coming together as a community to embrace the holiday season,” she said.

Small merchants in North Augusta are ready to greet shoppers with items to create meaningful gifts.

One of the newest is Town Square Olive Oil and Wine, which opened about a month ago on Georgia Avenue in the heart of downtown North Augusta.

Owner, Tia Harville said shoppers have been enjoying the novelty of sampling the dozens of specialty oils and vinegar they sell, but there’s so much more to explore.

“We offer wine tastings all day long, every day. And we also do just glasses of wine,” she said. “We have quite a few folks that will come in, especially while they’re shopping and creating gift baskets for people and looking for something specific, and just grab a glass of wine or a glass of sangria and just sip and shop.

There are also gourmet foods and snacks along with gift items like unusual drinkware and home décor.

Just a block away on Georgia Avenue is a one-of-a-kind shop – Orange Otter Toy Store. It is the only locally-owned toy store in the area.

This is Orange Otter’s second Christmas welcoming customers. Owner, Aubrey Hinkson said they learned valuable lessons last year.

“We have worked really hard this whole year to make this holiday season shine,” said Hinkson. “We’ve been listening to what people have been asking for. We’ve got some of the top toys, and different things that people have been looking for. We have them here, but you can also find something super unique.”

They can appeal to children of all ages, but they also have surprises for the young at heart.

“We have so many retro toys that’ll just be fun. Our whole tree is decorated with the “World’s Smallest”, which are all retro toys like a tiny ViewMaster, tiny Slinky, tiny Lincoln Logs, and tiny Etch-A-Sketch. And those make great stocking stuffers for your adult kids, for your spouse, and for your parents. Because then it gives them that nostalgia of Christmas that you know they had growing up,” she said.

Sarah Childers, experience and community engagement manager for Destination Augusta, which is the starting point for the SBS Crawl, said shopping locally can ensure a special gift for a loved one, but there is another hope.

“We hope that any first-time event patrons will become recurring, engaged customers at our unique locally owned businesses,” she explained.

Businesses involved in the crawl cover a broad spectrum of gift ideas, including Augusta Candle Company, Mod Home, Urban K9, and The Book Tavern.

The Earth Pantry, one of the newest businesses on Broad Street, is also participating.

Owner, Alexia Gonzalez said, “Small Business Saturday is more than just a day to buy gifts; it is also a celebration of local community, talent, and love. By supporting a small business this season, you’ll be getting a gift for a loved one, but also giving the gift of community to the business owner.”

It is a sentiment that’s shared by Hinkson.

“It makes or breaks us really. This is our time to make sure that we can continue to provide the service to the community,” she said. “We need everybody to come out and support. Even if you just got one gift on your list from us, it would mean the world to us. And we can keep doing what we’re doing and serving the community.”

Harville agreed, “It’s very important because we just opened and so the support of the community is what’s keeping us going. We’re hoping that with the gift-giving season, a lot of people will be introduced to our products, and then can see how much they love it and then come back.”

The SBS Crawl kicks off at Augusta & Co. at 1010 Broad Street at 10 a.m. on Saturday and runs until 4 p.m. The first 200 shoppers at Augusta & Co. receive a map and a locally designed tote bag.

For more information visit: www.downtownsoul.city

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