Shopping small: Downtown businesses find success on consumer holiday

It was a flourishing day for Downtown Seymour as a frenzy of customers lined stores on the consumer holiday that has become known as Small Business Saturday.

The day is set aside as a response to Black Friday, which typically involves large retailers and national box stores.

In each of the stores downtown, customers waited to purchase items or walked about the stores to make selections.

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Tim Stuckwisch and his family spent the morning having breakfast downtown first before making their way through a variety of shops.

Stuckwisch was waiting outside Dragonfly Boutique on Chestnut Street as the rest made purchases.

The store was busy with customers making selections of clothing, shoes, accessories and the other items. At times, the store was shoulder-to-shoulder around display areas.

“We’re doing some Christmas shopping and decided to hit all the downtown boutiques,” he said.

Stuckwisch said he was happy to see people supporting small businesses and said he tries to support them throughout the year.

He said money spent at local shops helps support the families who own them, which in turn is good for the entire community.

“I just think money spent downtown with local people who own them, bring the money right back into our community and it helps out,” Stuckwisch said.

He said the selection in downtown Seymour is impressive because of the variety that is readily available at local shops.

Becky Schepman, director of Seymour Main Street, said that’s a selling point for the 25 or so retail businesses that can be found in main street’s business district.

“We have jewelry, bakeries, clothing, decor, music instruments and more,” she said. “We also have businesses that offer a lot of spa services and the gift of wellness.”

For Stuckwisch, he and his wife began attending Small Business Saturday last year and liked it so much they invited other family members.

“This is the first time my mom has been to Small Business Saturday and she is really enjoying it,” he said. “It was our first time last year and I guess it’s going to become a tradition.”

“Here, you run into a lot of people you know and the selection is different in a small town rather than all the repetitive stuff,” he said.

Alesia Richards brought her daughters Raeshel and Zoe and they decided to started their day by looking through clothing at Lea Boutique.

“They don’t have as many opportunities or resources as places like Walmart,” she said. “We like supporting the small businesses.”

Richards said small downtown shops offer items that cannot be found at large retailers or big box stores.

“I like doing the boutiques because they’re unique,” she said. Larger stores offer many, mass-produced items, but local boutiques offer one-of-a-kind finds,” Richards said. “A lot of times the boutiques only get a certain amount of something so it’s not something everyone has.”

At Hearts Desire Gift Shop, people lined aisles to look at various items the store had to offer. The store has three levels to offer everything from clothing and Christmas decorations to jewelry and yard signs to purses and key chains. The store also offers customized embroidery to make any gift unique.

Shannon Allman, who owns the shop at Chestnut and Bruce streets, said the store was busy Friday and all day Saturday.

“It’s been like this nonstop,” she said as she made her way from behind the cash register, pointing to the line that led from the counter back to a few displays.

Four generations helped run the shop Allman started in 1995. She had help from her mother, Connie Swider, daughter Chandra Campbell and granddaughter Kamady Hunnicutt.

Seymour Main Street organized a Santa Selfie Contest where participants could snap a picture at shops and upload it to social media for a chance to win prizes from local shops.

Items like beards, reindeer ears, glasses, Santa hats and more were at various locations for them to use. Participants uploaded the selfies to Facebook or Instagram, where they tagged Seymour Main Street’s official page and used two hashtags.

Two winners will receive a tote bag full of items from downtown, which were set to be announced this morning.