Small Business Saturday brings out residents, visitors to downtown Aiken
Residents and visitors filled the streets of downtown Aiken on Saturday to support local small businesses.
Small Business Saturday, which takes place the Saturday after Thanksgiving, is a national initiative that began in 2010 as an American Express campaign meant to support small businesses. It has become a fixture nationwide on shopping schedule between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
In Aiken, the Aiken Downtown Development Association has promoted and hosted the event since the initiative started, and local small business owners tend to agree the day helps to drum up sales.
Plum Pudding, 101 Laurens St. N.W., is one of the longest standing local businesses in the downtown area, having been an Aiken staple for 42 years.
Christian Carlisle, manager of the Plum Pudding, said between Black Friday and Small Business Saturday the store saw well over 1,000 customers.
“It’s been wide-open,” Carlisle said.
He said he thinks downtown Aiken is unique compared with other cities.
″(Downtown Aiken) is not commercialized,” he said. “It’s a downtown that has a heart. Downtown is a living and delicate ecosystem that needs to be supported to stay healthy.”
Many small business owners across the nation have had trouble staying afloat over the years as large chains like Walmart or Target creep into their local areas, offering cheap goods that can all be purchased in one place.
Angie Holdorf, owner of the Paisley Peacock, said Aiken is a “great community” that supports the small businesses.
“It can really be tough competing with the big chain stores,” Holdorf said. “But small businesses like mine offer people a more personal experience they cannot get at the big stores. I think small businesses pull the community together.”
The Paisley Peacock, 109 Laurens St. N.W., saw many customers come in between Black Friday and Saturday, Holdorf said.
“I will say many of the people coming in though are not from Aiken, they are people visiting from all over the place,” she said.
Marianne Kipness and her husband moved to Warrenville from Connecticut in September. She was doing some holiday shopping Saturday at Plum Pudding.
″(My husband and I) used to have a small business, so we know all about the struggle,” Kipness said. “Small Business Saturday is important because it brings people out to shop at the local small businesses.”
Lisa Barrett, from Linville, North Carolina, and her husband were in Aiken for the first time on Saturday.
The Barrett’s decided to share their 14th anniversary in Aiken and went shopping at some small businesses downtown.
“My husband had heard about Aiken being a nice place to visit and we decided it was where we were going,” Barrett said. “Everyone has been so welcoming and gracious. It’s a great community and I love the downtown area.”