PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A Philadelphia tradition returned just in time for Small Business Saturday, an annual shopping holiday that retailers believed would provide an even bigger boost this year.
Christmas Village is open for business in Love Park.
The options this year are nearly endless for people looking to shop local, with more than 100 vendors set up around City Hall. The market is open every day until Christmas Eve.
Shoppers and window shoppers alike can partake in jewelry, art, food, delicious hot drinks, and a carousel for the kids.
One fan favorite at the market used Christmas Village as a springboard to not only a highly-popular food truck, but new product lines.
“We were able to take our little small street food that started at Christmas Village and turn it into a coffee, a beer, and a spice, all just from the love that we received from Philadelphia,” said Charisse McGill, the owner of French Toast Bites.
She said this time last year was a little slow last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but now business is back and booming.
“When you shop locally, you’re really supporting and keeping the money not only in the city, but the state as well,” she said.
“I’m dedicated to serving the students from local schools. When you support me, you're supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs, the next generation of food professionals in this town, so you can see it. You’re able to see where the dollar goes.”
While French Toast Bites is a longtime favorite of the market, plenty of newcomers also came hoping to take advantage of a more robust economy, like GOLD+WATER CO.
“We are a boutique online soapery here in Philadelphia. I sell handcrafted soaps, bath and body products,” said owner Chartel Findlater, whose line of colorful soaps includes “Refresh,” which she called a “happy accident.”
“What happens when you're making the soap is that sometimes the temperature or the fragrance will cause it to accelerate, it becomes so much faster than you're anticipating. It's marbled, taking advantage of that process.”
U.S. shoppers last year spent an estimated $20 billion on Small Business Saturday, according to American Express, which originated the occasion in 2010 and cosponsors it with the Small Business Administration.
With inflation and recession fears looming, those dollars mean even more for small business owners like Shanti Mayers, owner of the Sable Collective, which sells clothing, jewelry, housewares and wellness products sourced from women of color.
“It's an ecosystem,” said Mayers. “The better that I do, the better that they do.”
Pumping money into Main Street
Of course, Small Business Saturday extends far beyond the Christmas Village. People took to Main Street in Manayunk on the day to do their shopping at local businesses as well.
Brandy Deieso, owner of the Little Apple gift boutique, said Small Business Saturday is the shop’s number one sales day each year.
“We have a lot of support from our community,” said Deieso. “Manayunk is really small business-centric so everyone comes down and always supports us on this day.”
This year, it looked like sales could exceed 2021’s numbers, as the store was filled with people, like Jasmine Carpenter, who purchased a baby book and hat.
“These are people’s dreams. We don’t wanna just wanna always shop on Amazon. It makes it a little more personal,” she said.
“They really need our help these days, after the pandemic and the quarantine all those years they were suffering, so I’m really glad to be here,” said shopper Betsie Anne McMullen.
Many gift givers on Main Street got something special in return along with their purchases.
“Last year, a couple of the business owners designed special Manayunk small business tote bags,” said Deieso. “So they have our little Manayunk branding and we custom designed them just for our street.”
That’s the special touch that shoppers say makes all the difference for supporting small businesses.