By JEROD CLAPP
Instead of hosting door-busters, limited stock of big-ticket items and opening in the early hours of the morning, businesses in New Albany and Jeffersonville kicked off the holiday shopping season in leisurely fashion.
Small Business Saturday showed off what local businesses have to offer in the gift-giving arena.
But other events with lights and floats followed a morning of finding presents.
At about 10 a.m., stores along Spring Street flipped their signs from “closed” to “open.” No crowds burst through the doors, but business owners said people were coming in throughout the day.
With signs in the windows of many stores from Jeffersonville Main Street promoting Small Business Saturday, customers made their way to downtown for shopping.
Claudia Gatewood, owner of Choices in Jeffersonville, said her store had several good rushes of customers in the morning.
“It’s very, very good,” Gatewood said. “It’s something that really brings people out, it surprises me that people really pay attention and read about events like this. It gives them a chance to get out and really see what’s out here.”
She said Small Business Saturday has always made a big impact for her business by year-end and with families more secure about the economy, they’re beginning to come out a little more.
Dawn Spyker, co-owner of Silica Ceramic Studio, said since they’re new in the area, it’s been difficult to gauge how much of a difference Small Business Saturday made for her. But she was glad to see a few people making their way into her store.
“We have been surprisingly steady this morning,” Spyker said. “We’ve had a lot of foot traffic this morning and sold a few pieces.”
Along with a more relaxed atmosphere as opposed to Black Friday, she said there’s also camaraderie with other businesses in the area. She said if other local businesses are doing well, it gives the opportunity for her own to thrive.
“There’s not this pressure of people standing next to you trying to get the same thing as you,” Spyker said. “We encourage people to go down to Perkfection, get a cup of coffee, come back and relax.”
Her co-owner, Jennie DiBeneditto, said Jeff Main Street also offers support — and knowing that makes a difference.
“With Jeff Main Street, it’s nice to know we’re not the only ones promoting our business,” DiBeneditto said. “With the pictures on Facebook and everything else, I feel like it’s really helped us out.”
Later that day, the city hosted a holiday parade and Light Up Jeffersonville, and next weekend also brings in the Holiday Cookie Stroll.
Shoppers in Floyd County got a chance to take their holiday shopping to another level of stress-free in New Albany.
The annual Jingle Walk gave customers the opportunity to find a unique Christmas gift while allowing them to sample some local wines.
Erica McBride, 36, Sellersburg, said she and her husband wanted to browse without the pressure to pick up something immediately.
“We don’t have our kids today, so I’m just excited to look around and window shop without a whole lot of expectations,” McBride said.
Laura Applegate, owner of Regalo, said her store stayed busy for a long time during the event. She said unique opportunities like the Jingle Walk are good for customers and store owners.
“We’re glad to be a part of downtown New Albany and we’re glad they sponsor events like this because it brings people out,” Applegate said. “It’s just a different event to get people out, give them a reason to shop and spend time with friends.”
In her store, Wilbert Best, the owner of Best Vineyards in Elizabeth, had a spot set up to serve some of his wines.
He said it’s fun for him, but it’s also nice to have another chance to introduce people to his products.
“This is a great event,” Best said. “We’ve been here every year they’ve had it and it gets shoppers for the stores and gets us some wine sales. It’s great to see so many people here at something like this.”