Small crowds, unique products encourage people to shop small

By Colter Anstaett - Southside Bureau Reporter
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ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - For Jerry Helm, Small Business Saturday is a chance to purchase some carbonated herbal tea, known as Kumbacha.

"What drives my coming [downtown] is that I can't buy this anywhere but here," said Helm, after purchasing his tea.

Aside from simply being able to buy the tea, he says the buying experience is better than at the big box stores.

"I like the people, I like the products, I like not having the traffic to deal with. It's just a more personal experience," said Helm.

Hannah Hammons shops small because she understands the struggle of a small business.

"My dad was self employed, my husband is self employed, so we know the importance of getting a good customer base and keeping your money in the community," Hammons emphasized.

She wants to help out those who, like her husband and her father, try to have what she calls a local lifestyle.

"We just feel that it's important to support people who are trying to have a local lifestyle and support their family and do good for their community," Hammons said.

Even those who aren't necessarily looking to buy enjoy Small Business Saturday.

"Walmart is real crowded, so you can come down here and walk around and sit down in a little café and get you a cup of coffee," said James Alaen.

For many, if they do buy something they believe they'll get more for their money.

"If you come down here, you'll probably get better prices and stuff like that," Alaen said. "I wish everybody would come down here and shop around here."

And, of course, so, too, do the businesses.

"People start to recognize the business because they're actively searching for Christmas gifts,' said Abby Reczek, owner of Abby Reczek Pottery.

"I think it brings people out who wouldn't normally come down here on a Saturday," said Tabitha Venditti, owner of Te Tai.

While there was no projection as of Saturday about how many people would shop local nationwide this year, American Express, which started Small Business Saturday, estimates 95 million people shopped small on Small Business Saturday in 2015.

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