Black Friday is a very important day in the corporate retail business calendar. The goal is to finish the year strong with higher and higher profits, and to push merchandise in-time for the next year’s releases. This is all masked really well by offering “Door Busters” and what appears to be deep discounts on merchandise. It is all a part of the retail world. There is another side however. The smaller side. The Small Business Saturday side.
While many chain stores are busy unpacking, tagging, and merchandising product, there are small shops that are hand picking special merchandise just for you. They have spent a lot of time curating the right products, because the money they are spending on purchasing is very important to their success. Local makers are hard at work to finish pouring candles, sanding wood, or steaming the last bit of fabric before production. The holiday shopping season is a key time for makers and shop owners. The increase in sales allows them to purchase supplies, equipment, or to get closer to hiring someone. Every day is an important sales day for local shops. Every day is Black Friday for many makers and owners.
Without sounding too dramatic, every penny you spend on locally-made goods creates a ripple effect with many positive repercussions for our local economy and culture. For example: A talented designers tries selling in art shows and sporadic pop-up shops. The designer often has to work a few jobs to be able to have money to invest in small run production of garments hoping they sell. A store notices the unique designs of the local designer, and thinks that it will sell in their shop. The owner places a small order. The shop promotes the local talent, and drives traffic into the store. YOU fall in love with the dress and decide to buy it. You wear it out and someone asks, “Where did you find that great dress?” You send them to the store, only to find out the small run of dresses is sold out. The business owner notices, and calls up the local designer to see if there is anything new available. There is a new dress, and the store places a bigger order because the demand is there. The store is making money, because the community knows there are local products available. The designer is making money which is used to buy better machinery, fabric, or hire someone to help fulfill the orders.
Indy has some fantastic supporters of shopping small year round, but they are a tiny percentage of the overall population. Not only that, but downtown fashion retail often gets overlooked (even by people who live downtown!). This may be because many people still think that the only place to shop for apparel downtown is at the Circle Center Mall or it could be that the convenience of shopping online is just to difficult to pass up in favor of going on a boutique “crawl”. Whatever the case, some really great independent shopping options have recently popped up. Places like Boomerang BTQ, James Dant, Righno, Pattern Store, & ZagWest have all opened their doors within the last 12-16 months. As apartment buildings downtown continue to go up, one after the other, it’s made sense to all of us to locate at the heart of our city. Still, the challenge of relative low density persists and we need people from the suburbs to come and shop our stores while the slow, but sure process of repopulating the urban core is taking place. Without support from non-downtown residents, all of the above stores will be hard pressed to keep their doors open long-term.
Just some food for thought! Please continue to spread the word of your favorite places to shop for local items (and not just clothing stores either!). Go out and explore new neighborhoods and communities for local gems and help us to share with others the impact that shopping local can have on our city.