Montpelier, Vt. - Last year more than 95 million people supported the "little guys" by shopping local on Small Business Saturday. Those shoppers spent an estimated $14 billion nationwide that day. In Montpelier, stores and restaurants were getting shoppers excited in their own unique way.
"Our businesses here are what give us this vibrant downtown," said Andrea Voyer, a Montpelier shopper. Friday was all about flashing your flannel.
"Our retailers and our small businesses are a pretty tight-knit community, as well as the shoppers. We really support the shop local movement. These days are really to just have some fun, and bring more people out," said Ashley Witzenberger, Executive Director of Montpelier Alive, the local community events group. And the crowds were out in force for Montpelier's kick off to the Shop-Local weekend.
"Montpelier is a great place to have a local business. People really do support local, and shopping local, and small. So I feel pretty lucky," said Sarah Defelice, Owner and Operator of the Bailey Road Boutique on Main Street. She was rocking her own flannel socks Friday. The day was part of a trifecta of sales events. It was Montpelier's "cozy version" of Black Friday. Wear your flannel, get a discount. "It's really important to keep them open with our patronage, so that we have this wonderful downtown to come too. It's the downtown that really holds our community together," added Voyer.
On the corner of Main and State, Bear Pond Books was packed with flannel-clad customers. "There's a lot of hype around Black Friday and we are certainly happy to have people here. It has been a very steady stream of customers today and we expect that to grow as the afternoon goes on. It's an exciting and busy day, we spend a lot of time planning for this day," said Rob Kasow. Kasow and his wife Claire have owned the shop since 2006. He says Vermonters just get it. "Vermonters generally get it, as far as shopping local goes. They understand the importance of it and not to regurgitate statistics, but money spent locally multiplies a lot faster within the communities than money spent at national big box chains," added Kasow.
Robert is right, according to American Express, the company behind the Small Business Saturday movement, for every $100 dollars spent, 68 of them stay in the local economy. That's compared to the just $48 dollars that stay in the local economy when shopping at big-box stores.
It's shopping, the Vermont way.
Montpelier will continue it's Shop-Local weekend tomorrow with Small Business Saturday. Stores will be offering other special discounts Sunday. And Montpelier's downtown will wrap things up with Cider Monday. Stores will offer cider and donuts to shoppers who come in the door.
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