Local stores benefit from 'Small Business Saturday'

Local residents, visitors participate in 8th Annual Small Business Saturday. (WJAR)

In 2010, American Express launched the campaign to encourage people to shop locally.

Since then, the Chamber of Commerce in hundreds of cities and towns across the United States have participated in the campaign to help promote it.

In downtown Westerly on Small Business Saturday, shoppers who didn’t get the Black Friday fix they were looking for spent their cash locally.

“We’re here to support the local businesses,” said Lina Gharios. “We’re looking for unique Christmas presents for families and friends.”

With holiday music playing throughout downtown courtesy of WBLQ radio almost every locally-owned store in the area participated in the “Shop Small” campaign.

Woodees, a clothing boutique that’s mixed with unique gifts, was one of them.

“We try to create a whole experience here,” said Anna Lenihan, the owner of Woodees. “From the second you walk in the door, we try to make you feel like friends and family”

At just 24 years-old, Lenihan is one of the youngest business owners on the block.

“I’ve been participating for six years now,” said Lenihan.“ Every year, more and more people have been super hyped to partake in it.”

On Small Business Saturday, regular priced clothing was 20 percent off at Woodees.

There were other sales around the store.

“You get your regulars that come back and they’re excited to see you,” said Lenihan. “The when you’re buying for the next season you keep those people in the back of your mind.”

Lenihan said as a small business owner she’s got a different relationship with her customers. It’s one customers won’t find at a big box store.

“Yeah, maybe it’s a couple dollars more but you’re paying for full experience, good quality, and not everyone’s going to have the same stuff as you,” she said. “And you’re supporting dreams and families.”

It’s for that reason Lina and Deanna Gharios shop small.

“It’s definitely more personable here,” said Lina. “We know a lot of the merchants so we like to say hello and come out and visit with them.


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