Thirty minutes before the official start of Franklin’s Small Business Saturday event, the line outside the chamber of commerce was already halfway down the block.
Franklin resident Noreen Hoggatt, along with her nephew Glenn Faris and niece Brianna Faris, had the luck of being first line as they waited for the Franklin Chamber of Commerce to open the doors for its 10th annual Start Here Open House for Small Business Saturday at the chamber’s downtown office. Small Business Saturday is a shopping holiday created by American Express in 2010 to give small businesses a boost during the recession. Now, it is a cherished tradition that promotes shopping small on this day and year-round.
As part of the open house, shoppers had the chance to receive tote bags stuffed with coupons, free gifts and samples. The first 100 people also received envelopes containing between $10 and $100 in Chamber Cash, a coupon for money off a purchase at participating small businesses, to use and spend.
For the last six years, both Hoggatt and Glenn Faris have attended the annual open house. This was the first time they had ever been at the front, they said.
“It’s a bonding moment for me and him,” Hoggatt said. “It’s a time that we can get together and enjoy each other’s company.”
Supporting local small businesses is important, especially for Glenn Faris, who works at The Historic Artcraft Theatre. They planned to go to Wild Geese Bookshop after the kickoff event, he said.
“We always go there every year,” Glenn Faris said.
It’s also a matter of small town pride, said Brianna Faris. She now lives in Simpsonville, South Carolina but came back to Franklin for Thanksgiving and to take part in the Small Business Saturday shopping, she said.
Franklin resident Traci Hill and her friend Chyna Smith love taking part in the shopping event. After getting Chamber Bucks at the chamber office, the two went shopping in Vintage Whimsy for Christmas presents.
“It’s fun. We love the community event, and we love shopping local,” Hill said.
Smith loves the uniqueness of the items she is able to get while shopping local compared to shopping online or at a big box store. She also loves the community aspect.
“I want to see it thrive and grow,” she said. “I’m just trying to do my part in helping with that.”
“I think Franklin is a great small town,” Hill said. “They all work together, and it’s fun to be able to support our small businesses.”
Farther north in Greenwood, more than a dozen people were in line at Take Root Country Store at 10 a.m. for Restore Old Town Greenwood’s kick-off event. The first 50 customers snagged a goodie bag filled with swag and coupons from Old Town businesses. Each bag also had Old Town Dollars in some amount ranging from $5 to $35 for a total of $500 that customers could redeem at participating businesses.
Customers came from all over Indiana from as far away as Bloomington and South Bend, in addition to many small business devotees from Greenwood and the southside. It was a surprise for Restore Old Town organizers to hear the word had spread so far, they said.
Many tuned out after they saw information on the event in local newspapers or on television news. Several people said they saw Take Root on the Fox 59 segment “Where’s Sherman?” and just had to check out the store Saturday.
The Restore Old Town event changes locations each year to showcase different shops in Old Town. The kick-off event was also held at Take Root in the inaugural year, six years ago, said store owner Jackie Eanes.
“When you put something together like this you are trying to support the community, trying to support these shops that maybe some people have never been into before,” said Darcy Miles, an organizer of the event.
Eanes and her pets greeted customers old and new all throughout the day. Take Root has been in business for 26 years, with 17 years at the Euclid Avenue and Madison Avenue intersection in Old Town Greenwood, Eanes said. A second Take Root location opened in Franklin in April of this year.
The store is known for its farmhouse-style decor and a wide variety of seasonal decorations. On Saturday, every room and store surface was covered with items to spark Christmas joy, from mini Christmas trees and wreaths to snowmen and gnomes to holiday-scented candles and goat milk skin care products.
Support for businesses on Small Business Saturday and all throughout the year is key to keeping small businesses going, event organizers said.
“We always love seeing a big crowd and the people who come back over and over again to support us,” Eanes said. “It makes me grateful for all our customers. We’ve been in business for 26 years and some of them have been with us all of those 26 years. That makes me appreciate them all that much more.”
Reporter Noah Crenshaw and Editor Leeann Doerflein contributed to this report.