Shop small to support Wilson businesses

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For holiday shoppers unwilling to infringe upon family Thanksgiving festivities or endure crowds on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday is where it’s at, and Wilson merchants will be ready.

“What people need to remember is that many of our smaller retailers are some of the only places to find unique and locally sourced products, which not only carries with it an altruistic element of supporting our neighbors, but also means that consumers benefit from finding those products they can’t get anyplace else,” said Wilson Chamber of Commerce President Ryan Simons.

The National Retail Federation estimated 164 million people plan to shop from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, including 41 percent during Small Business Saturday — 78 percent of whom noted they plan to do so specifically to support small businesses.

“Black Friday marks the start of the holiday shopping season for many shoppers, so while Black Friday is the major push toward deals at the big-box stores and Cyber Monday features a major push toward online shopping, Small Business Saturday is a great reminder to not forget about your fellow community members who operate a business where you can find great gifts, services or dining,” said Kellianne Davis, Wilson downtown business specialist.

Davis encouraged shoppers to explore a number of new downtown businesses that have opened since last Thanksgiving, including Ina’s Garden & Pottery and Artisan Leaf on Tarboro, Haley’s Boutique, Flowers by Velma and SHE Plus Size Boutique & Consignment on Goldsboro Street and Barnes Street Gallery.

Da Bayou, Downtown Public House and other downtown establishments also will be open to give shoppers a break. Art Happens on Tarboro owner Kim Joy is expecting her final inspection today in time to unveil her stained glass and jewelry business for Saturday shoppers.

“Oftentimes, a small business is not going to be able to offer the steep discount that a big-box store can, but they can offer a small gift or the personal touch that a larger retail entity cannot,” Davis said. “This can be accomplished by offering a special gift-wrap station (a great way to get older kids involved in the family business), offering a small gift or a cup of warm cider while they shop.”

Simons said personalized experiences mark the difference between Black Friday and Small Business Saturday.

“Know your competition, which isn’t limited to the store across town. The reality is that merchants are competing with global players, including Amazon,” he said. “While price is an important part of that, local businesses need to leverage strengths that distant competitors may not have, like customer service, return policies, loyalty rewards, etc.”

Davis said supporting small business ensures holiday spending stays local and is reinvested in the Wilson community.

“A successful Small Business Saturday can give many small businesses the extra boost needed to make improvements and innovations to be even more successful in 2019,” she said. “In other words, the extra capital to a locally owned and operated business helps to ensure the longevity of the business by ensuring they see profits in the last quarter of the year.”

For business owners and advocates, support for locally owned businesses shouldn’t be relegated to one day a year.

“At the Wilson Chamber, a huge majority of our members would be considered small businesses,” Simons said. “For us, attention to their importance in the marketplace isn’t just reserved for the Saturday after Thanksgiving.”

Extra! Extra!

Wilson is officially a two-Wendy’s town as of Tuesday, so if you need to refuel while shopping or just need a break from family, head over to the new eatery at 800 U.S. 301 N. The fast-food restaurant employs 40 people and features an open dining area with multiple seating options, Coca-Cola Freestyle machines and more.

“This restaurant has bold curb appeal and features a compelling design — inside and out,” said Murl Jones, Wendy’s region manager. “It’s very different from what our customers in Wilson are used to, but we think they’ll really like the fresh look and feel of the new Wendy’s.”

The first 100 customers in line by 10 a.m. during the grand opening on Dec. 1 will have a chance to win free food for a year.

Got an idea for news to include in next week’s Main Street Minute? Don’t hesitate to reach out to me at 252-265-7821 or bhandgraaf@wilsontimes.com.