DOWNERS GROVE – Downtown sidewalks and businesses bustled with shoppers opting to buy local on Small Business Saturday instead of fighting the mall crowds on Black Friday.
“When you shop on Main Street you’re making an investment in your community,” Downers Grove resident Maggie Blackburn said. “Forget the fools lined up around the block at Walmart.”
Blackburn tried on scarves and looked at jewelry at noon Saturday inside one of her favorite stores, Baubles & More, 5121 Main St. She is a regular customer and made sure to stop by to take advantage of the Small Business Saturday deals.
“Baubles is always full of surprises, that’s why I stop in here every Saturday,” she said.
Baubles & More owner Lauren Wolfe said this year’s shopping crowd was about on par with last year.
“It’s been busy all day,” she said.
Down the block at Jolie Boutique, Downers Grove resident Nancy Walsh looked through racks of clothes as her friends shopped nearby.
“I didn’t go out [on Black Friday], I saved my money to go to the small merchants today,” she said. “I purposefully go out on Small Business Saturday. I think it’s fantastic, I love the small shops. My girlfriends and I go to the wine shop afterwards, we do it up right.”
Sharon Hirtzer, the mother of Jolie Boutique’s owner, helped to serve customers like Downers Grove resident Sue Siorek during the busy day.
Siorek was gift shopping and treating herself to items as well.
“They have more unique stuff than if you just go to the mall,” she said. “Especially for those really hard to shop for folks. Unfortunately, I spent more on myself today.”
The business moved to its current Main Street location this fall after originally opening on Curtiss Street.
“I think we’ve had much more traffic here,” she said.
Another employee, Cathy Malay, said the store got busy during the holiday tree lighting ceremony at the Main Street train depot Friday, and the shoppers continued into Saturday.
She said the Gingerbread Festival promotions, organized by the Downtown Management Corporation, especially helped.
Customers can grab a Gingerbucks Reward Card at participating downtown businesses.
For every $10 spent, they earn punch on the card. After 10 punches, the shopper’s card is submitted for a weekly prize drawing through Dec. 22.
Further down the road at Spice Merchants, 5225 Main St., owner Diane Buck said custom gift baskets were the most popular item of the day.
“It’s been nice and steady,” she said. “This is such a good community for small business shopping, they’re so supportive of the downtown businesses that we expected it to be pretty strong today.”