Staying local not just for Saturday; owners ‘need consistent, loyal shoppers’ coming back through year

Small Business Saturday is one of the biggest shopping days of the year for a downtown Franklin toy store, but the owner wants shoppers to know that one day isn’t enough.

Debi Pierson, owner of Toodleydoo Toys, is grateful for a day centered around local businesses because of the customers it drives into her Jefferson Street store each year.

But Pierson also has a love-hate relationship with the annual tradition because she wants shoppers to view local stores as a place to shop more than just once a year, she said.

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“We need consistent, loyal shoppers all year round; we cannot survive on two or three good Saturdays a year,” she said. “No business can.”

Small Business Saturday is one of the two biggest shopping days of the year for Pierson’s toy store in downtown Franklin. The other is the annual holiday open house in downtown Franklin at the beginning of November.

Pierson appreciates the sales those days bring in but also uses them to show customers what her store has to offer, including personalized customer service and unique items, to keep them coming back, she said.

“You won’t be left just wandering the aisles or wrestling over the last Hatchimal,” she said. “We want to make it a special experience.”

Local businesses across the county view the annual shopping tradition in a similar way. Small Business Saturday, which is the day after Black Friday, is aimed at getting shoppers into locally-owned stores.

Both the Franklin Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Greenwood Chamber of Commerce have been promoting the day, along with local shops. In Franklin, the chamber is openings its office for treats and coffee and giveaways to try to draw shoppers downtown.

Greenwood stores have teamed up to promote the day together and also host a scavenger hunt. Shoppers will get discounts for checking into local shops on social media.

For Jen Russell, who owns JenDaisy Boutique in Greenwood near Emerson Avenue and County Line Road, the combination of Black Friday and Small Business Saturday brings in enough to help carry her through the slow times at the beginning of each year, she said.

So she tries to give back to her customers on Small Business Saturday with a special discount and treats, she said.

But that level of customer service is also her goal every day, trying to replicate the experience she had as a child with her mother, whose favorite store had workers who always knew her name, she said.

“With us, it is about the relationship you have with your customers. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, they are the ones who keep us open,” Russell said.

At Coffeehouse Five on Market Plaza in downtown Greenwood, Small Business Saturday traditionally has not been one of their busiest days of the year, marketing director Amanda Peters said. Local shoppers are still hesitant to get their coffee locally, she said.

But she is hopeful that with the promotions planned by local small businesses, such as the scavenger hunt, that will bring in more customers, she said.

Brandon Nicoloff, co-owner of the Marshmallow Monkey on Monroe Street in downtown Franklin, isn’t quite sure what to expect this weekend, since this is their first time participating in Small Business Saturday, he said.

He hopes to see more shoppers than they would on a normal day and wants to make sure to make a good impression on each one so they will come back again, he said.

But he also views the day as one where local shops can band together to show shoppers all of what downtown Franklin has to offer, such as by recommending shoppers grab a meal at a downtown cafe or eatery, rather than a chain restaurant, Nicoloff said.

The goal is to keep bringing them back to downtown Franklin and spread the word about the unique and different shops there, he said.

“Small businesses are shaping Franklin,” he said. “We are becoming a shopping destination.”