Mt Pleasant News

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Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 21, 2018

Shoppers stay local during holiday weekend

Nov 27, 2017
Photo by: Karyn Spory It was a busy weekend in retail, but local businesses saw the love during Small Business Saturday.

By Karyn Spory, Mt. Pleasant News


Deb Gorham flitted around the displays in Lillian Grace on Saturday, picking up items and motioning to her family members, asking if they liked the color or cut. This was how Gorham, a Keokuk native, believes Christmas shopping should be done.

Gorham was traveling with three family members, hitting all of the unique boutiques in Southeast Iowa on Saturday, which during the long holiday has become known as Small Buisness Saturday.

“We use to be Black Friday shoppers, but not anymore,” said Gorham. “We’re grandmas now. This is much more our speed.”

Gorham said she had started on her holiday shopping, but didn’t have a set list for the day. “I’m not looking for anything in particular, just whatever is ‘wow,’” Gorham said.

Lillian Grace owner Sarah Lauer said she had already been impressed with the foot traffic so far. “We opened at 9 a.m., and there were people here waiting and it’s been steady since,” Lauer said.

Saturday was an extra special day for Lauer as it was the third anniversary of Lillian Grace’s opening. “Three years ago (Small Business Saturday) was our deadline. We had to be open by then,” she said.

In honor of the anniversary, Lauer said the boutique had extra sales and specials going on.

Across the square, it was a big day for Jen and Sam Riepe, owners of the antique store, the Vintage Raven. Saturday was the “soft opening” of the couple’s second antique store, which is aptly named “The Vintage Raven Too.”

Riepe said although she and her husband weren’t as focused on Black Friday as they were for Small Business Saturday, they were surprised with the amount of foot traffic they had. “A lot of people were saying they didn’t want to go to the malls,” she said. “They didn’t want to go to Burlington, they didn’t want to go to Iowa City, they just wanted to buy local.”

That was true for Kim Hurka, of Gladstone, Ill., and Marie Sereda, of Burlington. “We’re here to get our Christmas shopping done,” said Sereda. “We love the antique stores in the downtown area.”

Sereda and Hurka said they had spent Black Friday at home and were avoiding large shopping centers. Instead, they planned to do much of their shopping in downtown Mt. Pleasant.

“It’s interesting,” said Jim Miller, owner of Brown Bear Antiques. “Yesterday, with it being Black Friday, out of 100 people, maybe six were locals. The rest of them were out of town or out of state.”

Miller said he still felt like Saturday would be a bigger sales day for him, as Friday is usually reserved for the big box stores and Monday everyone is grabbing the cyber deals. However, the woman checking out at the register proudly stated she had avoided the crowds on Black Friday and was just shopping local on Saturday.

Whatever the cause, Miller is happy more people are focusing on shopping local and not just on Small Business Saturday. “When we came here in 2012 there were 18 empty buildings in the downtown area. To go from that to now it’s hard to find (an open storefront), it’s just really good to see it’s changed the way it has.”

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