Nov. 25—Diane Mullen walked down Main Street in downtown Erwin on Saturday afternoon with a bag full of shopping.
Mullen and four of Latrobe’s friends sample the small boutiques, shops, and niche stores that make up Irwin’s vibrant downtown on what has become one of the busiest days of the year for small businesses. spent the day. These small independent shops were the centerpiece of Small Business Saturday.
“I like small towns where I can shop,” Mullen says. “I hope something like this happens at Latrobe because I love it.”
Shoppers wandered from store to store under sunny skies, sampling more than a dozen businesses in the small borough.
Chris Sebra, owner of Curious Cat on Main Street, said the Saturday after Thanksgiving is traditionally the busiest day of the year for her home decor shop, which has been open for about a quarter of a century.
“I think what’s happening in our country today is that everyone is shopping online in stores and mass retailers, and that’s fine. But there’s something to be said about shopping in small stores. There are a lot of them,” Sebra said. “The key is personal service. This day is about bringing people to our town. It’s also a day for people who don’t want to shop in big box stores.”
The holiday season was in full swing at Painted Dog, another Sebula business next door. Volunteers at Cavalry Baptist Church in Irwin provided free gift wrapping to customers who made purchases in the city on Saturday.
Kayla Kennedy of Irwin said gift wrapping is a new service offered this year.
Given the overwhelming response to the holiday-themed service, this could become an annual event.
“We wanted to celebrate people during the holiday season,” Kennedy said.
Shoppers had plenty of choices Saturday.
Marlene Beeler, who has owned Impressions and Threads on the corner of Main Street and South Third Street for the past 15 years, has had customers come from as far as New Jersey and Florida to visit her clothing and custom embroidery shop. He said customers were coming.
“This brings people in to see what we have. There aren’t many towns that have what we have: Candy Stories, clothing boutiques, eateries. We really We have it all,” Beeler said. “I think people are staying away from going to malls. They’re afraid. Here they don’t have to be afraid. People can come to these stores and get personal service.”
Enchanted Garden of Irwin owner Joyce Dean said customers have been early to her store, which has been open on Main Street for 25 years.
Small Business Saturday is a day marked on her calendar.
“As soon as we opened, it was crowded,” Dean said. “This is a time when we need to make enough money to get us through the next few months.”
Rich Cholodowski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Rich can be reached via email at [email protected] or on Twitter.