MARION, Iowa (CBS2/FOX28) — Black Friday is the most popular day of shopping in the entire year for Americans, but Small Business Saturday is arguably the most important day for mom and pop shops.
Local business owners deck out their windowed stores with blue signage alerting passersby of the occasion, urging shoppers to poke their heads in and dig into their pockets to support small business.
Many of Marion’s Uptown stores experienced sizable success on Black Friday, which is commonly considered a box store’s dream day.
“We were happily surprised by how many people came in,” said Alison Irvin, the owner of Ali’s Weeds. “I think it says a lot about the community and their support of local businesses.”
Pedestrians meander and mosey to and fro, examining storefronts with keen eyes.
“Maybe this’ll be the first time they give a place like us a chance,” said Wit’s End Coffeehouse Owner Cathy Petersen. “We do our best to earn repeat customers on days like [Small Business Saturday].”
The business atmosphere in Marion defies the industry’s dog-eat-dog mentality, with several owners echoing one of High School Musical’s most famous mantras.
“We’re all in this together,” Irvin says, a phrase she claims her ‘friend,’ the owner of The Chocolate Shop, uses frequently. “Marion [businesses don’t] compete with each other… If one of us does well, we all do well, so we’re always encouraging and uplifting and networking together.”
Described as a sisterhood by the myriad female business owners comprising the uptown, the lady entrepreneurs are ‘constantly’ promoting each other’s businesses and aiming to drive traffic to all the local shops.
“We rely on the customers in order for us to survive and support our families,” said Heidi Cordes, the owner of Lillians. “I do my best to show support for local restaurants and shops and I know they do the same.”
Irvin, an Iowa transplant from Texas a decade ago, says she loves Marion and thinks shopping locally is important because doing so allows the money to stay in the community.
“It all funnels back,” she said, adding the money goes “back into the city, and that’s what we want.”