MARSHALL - While the amount of customers and sales were nothing near the Black Friday frenzy, there were still plenty of shoppers who bustled throughout the streets of Marshall the following day for Small Business Saturday.
Wedged in between two of the biggest shopping days of the year - Black Friday and Cyber Monday - Small Business Saturday seemed to gain some traction in the retail world since its first celebration two years ago.
"We've not been bored," Southwest Sewing and Quilting Center manager Marty Bass said about Saturday's traffic. "It's been awesome."
Photo by Jenny Kirk
As Greenwood Nursery assistant manager Andy Warner carefully bags up items for customer Toni Lecy, and her daughters Annabelle and Nicolette, in Marshall Saturday, co-owner Matt Jones rings up the Small Business Saturday purchase. Despite following a frenzied Black Friday event, a number of Marshall businesses reported having a steady flow of shoppers for the third annual celebration of Small Business Saturday, which encourages people nationwide to shop locally at the smaller businesses in their town.
Like other businesses, the flow of people went "in spurts," Bass said. Luckily, more and more people have been able to find the store, which is located on West Main Street, since opening at the location a year and a half ago.
"We did well (Saturday)," she said. "But we did well (Friday), too. We had a big rush this morning, but it's quiet now."
Southwest Sewing carries a variety of sewing machines, Bass said, including a full line of Back Lock sewing and embroidery machines.
"Our tag line is 'We keep you in stitches.'" Bass said.
The sewing machines, often referred to as their girls since they have names like Grace or Melody, come in a variety of models.
"It's unbelievable what they can do nowadays," Southwest Sewing sales associate Lucy Hefti said. "They came out with some machines that are really sweet. There's a sketch pad where you can draw a design on it and the machine will stitch it for you or convert a picture to stitches. Most of them are digitized."
Business was also steady at Slumberland.
"It's traditionally a good weekend," Marshall Slumberland owner Carol Bragg said. "We have the best of both worlds because we have the buying power of a large corporation, but since we're a franchise, we can also do Black Friday and Small Business Saturday for our local customers."
Black Friday sales were so strong at Bragg's three franchise stores - Marshall, Huron (S.D.) and Mitchell (S.D.) - that one of the top items - a sofa with a free love seat - was sold out at all three places in an hour and a half. On Saturday, the flow of people coming in and out of the store was fairly steady.
"It's nice to see people shopping locally," Bragg said.
Slumberland typically offers Cyber Monday sales online as well, Bragg said, though she pointed out that it is sometimes a little bit more difficult with furniture purchases.
"There's always the issue of returning items if they don't like what they ordered and the warranties," she said. "People can shop online, though, and have it delivered to their local store."
Dawson resident Loral Steinke and her daughter Larain, who is almost 3, made a point of shopping in downtown Marshall Saturday.
"We need some boots for the boys," Steinke said. "I also wanted to go to Italy Ava to check out the Nessa's Naturals products. Vanessa (Torke, Nessa's Naturals creator) is a friend of mine. I've always wanted to go into the store."
Daniel Rath was headed into the Last Stop CD Shop.
"I'm shopping for some CDs," he said. "I ordered some."
While there was a small lull in the amount of traffic coming into Sole Mates Saturday, owner Deb Brink said that the store had been busy much of the morning.
"It's really busy in town (Saturday), so that's great," Brink said. "(Friday), it was crazy, though. It was a zoo."
Sole Mates offers a nice variety of men's and women's shoes, including Bearpaw footwear, though Brink admits they sell a lot more when there is actually snow on the ground.
"They have the same sheepskin and wool lining as Uggs," Brink said. "But they're about half the price, so they're a lot more affordable to people."
Along with the newest Bearpaw boots on display, an 8-foot grizzly bearskin rug also caught the eye of many people at Sole Mates.
"Every year, he (the grizzly bear) makes a return," Brink said. "My uncle shot him in Alaska."
Sole Mates also carry infant and toddler shoes, along with accessories, like purses, jewelry and scarves. Lucan resident Melanie Carlson, who was shopping with her 4-year-old daughter Sara, was one of the customers to make a purchase. While in line, Sara Carlson made a special announcement.
"I slept by the Christmas tree last night," she said.
Melanie Carlson then explained that her husband Tom said he used to do the same thing the night his family set up the Christmas tree.
"He said he used to always do that," Carlson said.
While Brink was appreciative of everyone who came in, including an ever-growing family that comes in every year, she said part of her wishes that Small Business Saturday wasn't on Thanksgiving weekend.
"A lot of people are out of money by (Saturday)," she said. "I'd rather have it the first Saturday in December or something. But it's a national thing, so you just have to go with it."
Marshall resident Toni Lecy chose to shop with her daughters, Nicolette and Annabelle, at Greenwood Nursery in Marshall.
"I'm doing one of these spruce top pots," Lecy said. "We're doing a candy theme."
As he helped the Lecys carry out their newly-purchased items, assistant manager Andy Warner talked about the past two days.
"(Friday) was really busy," he said. "(Saturday), we've been very steady."
Matt Jones, co-owner of Greenwood Nursery in Marshall and Tracy, said approximately 400 to 500 holiday pots are actually sold each year. Wreaths are also very popular, he said.
"A lot of the churches do them as fundraisers," Jones said.
Jim and Becky Burns took their time finding the perfect Christmas tree at Greenwood Nursery. Since the trees are hung inside, away from the cold, customers are able to take as long as they need.
"It's nice because you can come inside, even if it's at night, and see them," Jones said. "People can spin them around and find the one they like best."
The Burns eventually selected a 7-foot tall Balsam fir.
"We were just out looking for a tree," Becky Burns said. "I don't like the big crowds, so I don't go shopping on Black Friday."
While a number of trees were sold so far this weekend, Jones said that typically, the next two weekends were the busiest in regards to people purchasing trees.
"It's always a crapshoot," he said. "We're busiest, believe it or not, when it's snowing. It must get people in the Christmas mood. One time in Tracy, we sold 30 trees on a Tuesday, from noon on when it was snowing."
Jane and Mike Hass of Westbrook were in town watching their son Aaron play in a basketball tournament and also decided to stop in and make a few purchases at Greenwood Nursery.
"We're on our way to Slayton for another basketball tournament," Jane Hass said.
At Larson's Home Furnishings, employee Cindy Farrell was pleased to see that people remembered to shop the small businesses in town.
"We have so many wonderful downtown businesses," she said.
Like other small businesses, Christmas shoppers can be sporadic. On Saturday, Larson's was supposed to close at 4 p.m. but was still open at 4:45 p.m. because customers were still shopping and making purchases.
"We seemed to be swarmed one minute and then have no one," Farrell said. "But that's the way it usually rolls."