Wilson businesses: ‘Shop small first’ this holiday season

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Small business owners gather Monday on the Wilson County Courthouse steps in an effort to promote shopping small throughout November and December.
Small business owners gather Monday on the Wilson County Courthouse steps in an effort to promote shopping small throughout November and December.
Brie Handgraaf | Times

Wilson small business owners united this week to encourage customers to “shop small first” throughout November and December.

“The idea for the two-month focus on small business this fall is not unlike last year with the Small Business Rocks campaign as it is our goal to draw attention to the smaller businesses first to remind shoppers to start here before going to the big-box stores,” said Melissa Evans, director of the Small Business Center at Wilson Community College. “Focusing attention on the lifeblood of American business — small businesses which typically account for over 99 percent of businesses, employ almost 57 million people representing over 42 percent of the private workforce and represent 98 percent of firms exporting goods, according to the U.S. Census Bureau — shows appreciation for the American dream whether we own a small business of our own or not. These are the folks that we engage with in our community, at our children’s sporting events, in our faith-based organizations and in the grocery store line.”

Ina’s Garden & Pottery Shop co-owner Tim Lamm said giving back to local charities is an important component of being a small business owner, especially in the tight-knit downtown area. His shop next to Artisan Leaf on the 100 block of Tarboro Street is full of decorative garden accessories and handmade pottery from four artists with vintage, repurposed displays for a unique shopping experience.

“It is time for people to get back to shopping local businesses where they can find a good selection of unique merchandise in a great setting while supporting their neighbors, friends and family,” he said.

Andrea Horton-Morton, who owns Art at 123 Studio, said she’s focused recently on making upgrades to the Barnes Street store that echoes the commitment to redevelopment made elsewhere in the center city.

“The front is more inviting and we’re still renovating, but everything is coming together for us and we’re loving the changes that have occurred in downtown since we’ve been down there,” Horton-Morton said. “I was a loner, but we’re a downtown family now.”

She said having a slow holiday shopping season has ripple effects on classes and events next year. Art at 123 Studio will kick off the season with the third candy Christmas art and gift sale from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday.

“A successful holiday season provides a boost to a successful small business owner who has capitalized on the market, and this season can represent up to 30 percent of the annual sales for the small entrepreneur,” said Evans. “It is often this time of the year that the small business owner can catch up on taking an income from the business if sales go well.”


The U.S. Small Business Administration recently announced nonprofit organizations in 49 counties — including Wilson — affected by Hurricane Florence are eligible for public assistance. Organizations such as soup kitchens, homeless shelters and community centers can borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged real estate, machinery and equipment as well as inventory and other business assets.

The Small Business Administration also offers economic injury disaster loans to help meet working capital needs such as ongoing operating expenses for private nonprofits. For more information on available resources, visit DisasterLoan.sba.gov/.

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.