“It’s just warm and fuzzy”: Local shops feel the love on Small Business Saturday

Local shops feel the love on Small Business Saturday

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - From neighborhood-friendly food trucks to pandemic-themed dumpster fire ornaments, for months small businesses in South Carolina have been getting creative to keep their businesses afloat.

And for some businesses, the support they felt from customers on Small Business Saturday was just enough to keep them going.

“Small Business Saturday has been amazing so far. It just seems like people are supportive of local businesses especially in the times we are in now, just giving back, it’s been great.,” business owner Kyle Smith said. “As a business owner there is a little stress involved with generating income, but to see everyone come out and support it’s just warm and fuzzy,” he added.

Smith’s handmade pottery business took a big hit when Soda City closed at the start of the pandemic, so the entrepreneur had to adjust to stay on track.

“I had to step up my online game so to speak and kind of rearrange things with my business. So, sales are right on course,” he said.

Smith is even having a little fun with his more festive offerings. He is selling Christmas ornaments in the shape of toilet paper and dumpster fires in addition to his more typical selection of cups, bowls, vases.

However, he knows he can’t become complacent.

“It’s definitely motivating, I’ll get back to my shop this afternoon and go right back to work,” he said.

Smith is hardly the only business owner at Soda City’s Holiday Market who had to pivot online when stores were shut down last spring. Susane Bloomfield and her sister rely on their plant-based cosmetics business, Sebastian Harper, for extra income. Bloomfield said sales from Soda City Market makes up about 90% of their total. But while business was rocky earlier this year, she is optimistic about their sales for the rest of the season.

“The holiday season is always the best time of the year as far as sales. Because sometimes your sales in just one month are double or triple what you could bring in another month,” she said.

However, Bloomfield said, she is missing some of her favorite parts of being a small, local business.

“I want to smile to people, but they don’t see me behind my mask, so I have to do a lot of waving to customers just to make sure they are safe,” she said.

For Café Strudel Food Truck Manager, Caleb Maylor, the pandemic has been a boom for a new sector of business.

“Before this, we didn’t have a food truck, we were actually using someone else’s. It went so well we ended up buying our own [truck] brand new,” he said.

And shoppers walking around Saturday were thrilled to give the businesses lining Main St. their patronage.

“We wanted to see what the locals were offering and support them,” Dawn Yamashiro said.

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