’We’re really expecting the local people to come out and support us’

Local store owners hope for huge crowds on Small Business Saturday

ROANOKE, Va. – Families came out of their Thanksgiving food comas and hit the stores for those Black Friday deals.

Even families hoping to beat the craze by getting a later start had to deal with the crowds.

“It looks kinda crowded in there right now,” said Barbara Redden, who lives in Botetourt County.

"Any stores we went in that had super long lines, we just left,” said Terry Tucker, a Fincastle resident who was out shopping with her daughter.

It wasn’t just malls and shopping centers that were brimming with people. Dozens of shoppers strolled the streets of downtown Roanoke.

“I try to buy everything locally if I can,” said Stefanie Oka, a Roanoke resident who also runs her own business, Paintings by Stefanie.

“It’s been pretty fun. There are some good deals on the local stuff," said Abbey Siebart, who’s visiting the area.

With Cyber Monday looming, local business owners like Pauline Wood and Jerry Brockette are counting on the crowds to come back out for Small Business Saturday.

“Hopefully, there will be a lot of people. We have good faithful customers that usually show up for us in this time of year," said Brockette, who is a vendor at the Roanoke City Market.

“We’re thinking tomorrow should be a very, very, big day and we’re really are expecting the local people to come out and support us,” said Wood, who has owned Shades of Color downtown for 35 years.

They said people like to shop local because they are drawn in by the atmosphere, friendly faces and unique finds.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 2018 reached a record high for spending on Small Business Saturday with $17.8 billion being spent at independent restaurants and stores across the country.

However, for local shop owners like Wood and Brockette, the trick is competing with big box stores and the convenience of online shopping.

“It impacts everybody. I think eventually the online will get old and people will realize they’re not making any new friends if they just stay in their apartments or homes and order stuff.”

Word of mouth, creative advertising and loyal customers are keeping these shops on the map.

“I think it’s the camaraderie of, you know, having the community," said Oka. "As far as the crafts that we make and the talented people that are here. getting the word out about the things that we can create with our own hands that support the community.”

On Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., Downtown Roanoke Inc. is offering free coffee and donuts, giveaways, and the chance to win a $250 gift card. Plus, there’s free parking at certain garages throughout the holidays.

Other cities across Southwest and Central Virginia are celebrating Small Business Saturday, including Lynchburg and Blacksburg.

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