A record crowd shopped in Franklin on the biggest retail shopping day of the year.
Bargersville couple Jennifer and Tim Eiler were the first to attend the Franklin Chamber of Commerce Start Here open house at around 8:30 a.m. They were followed closely by the couple Franklin Missy and Brad Jones, who arrived around 8:45 a.m.
At 10 a.m., the line was stretching from the door of the House’s downtown office to the KORN Country office at the end of the block.
They were all hoping to grab one of four $ 100 Chamber Cash coupons to spend at participating Franklin stores. The Chamber awarded $ 1,500 in Chamber Cash this year to the first 50 people over 18 online.
House Executive Director Rosie Chambers said it was possibly the largest participation in the nine-year open house tradition. Seeing so many people coming to support local small businesses on a cold Saturday morning, all their efforts to organize the event were worth it, she said.
The Eilers were newbies to the kickoff event, but they’re no strangers to buying small. Jennifer Eiler works for American Express, which created the Small Business Saturday event in 2010, so she knows the importance of vacations to local businesses.
âJust knowing that all the money stays in the community is really important. We like to support this, âsaid Jennifer Eiler. “Plus, who wants big box stuff when you can get really cool things made by the locals.”
A favorite local store the Eilers had been eagerly awaiting to discover on Small Business Saturdays was Middle David Candles, which they return again and again for the homemade candles and the assortment of handcrafted jewelry and greeting cards.
The Joneses line up early each year and have made the kickoff a tradition. They have been coming downtown to Christmas shopping at Tooodleydoo Toys for years and have added stops at the Wild Geese Bookstore and Player Cave as their kids get older, they said.
The freebies in each store are unique and have the added benefit of supporting the local economy, Missy Jones said.
âIt gives back to our community,â she said. “We had breakfast at Coffee House Five before we came here, and they give money back to programs in our community, just like the (business) people who live here.”
Small Business Saturday is celebrated at local retailers, but it also benefits local restaurants. Shoppers were fueled by cups of coffee, breakfast and lunch from local establishments as they shopped throughout the day.
Statistics show that purchases from small businesses in America put about 67 cents of every dollar back into the local economy.
Small Business Saturdays and the holiday season in general are an important time of year for local businesses. A busy holiday shopping season helps support businesses like Possibilities: Home Re-Imagined in the early months of the year when business is slowest, said owner Christina Fletcher.
âIf we have a flop in the fourth quarter, we might not pass next year. By supporting our business now, you are making sure that we are open for the next year, âsaid Fletcher.
While their primary business and storefront purpose is refurbishing and finishing furniture, Fletcher takes pride in selling the work of local suppliers and other small businesses across the country.
At any given time, around 45 vendors are selling their handicrafts in the shop, she said.
âThe difference here is that you are helping pay for someone’s piano lessons; someone’s riding lessons; you are helping make someone’s dream come true, âsaid Fletcher.
At Possibilities, shopping small has a direct impact on the lives of at least 46 families, each of 45 vendors and Fletcher’s own family.
These 46 families then give back to their community and give their money back to Franklin, other communities in Johnson County, as well as communities across the state and nationwide.
âThe t-shirts we sell here are made by a 9-year-old boy,â said Fletcher. âI wrote him and his mother a check for $ 1,800 last week. Where else could a 9 year old boy make so much money? When he comes here, he buys gifts for his friends. When you shop here, you are helping your neighbor instead of a big business.
To help businesses and guide buyers through the holiday season and beyond, Fletcher has created a new website, visit-franklin.com, and a mobile app to promote Franklin Small Businesses.
The goal of the new venture is to bring together local businesses to promote shopping, dining and events in Franklin. Both feature a map of the stores and restaurants in Franklin and will include coupons and information on participating local businesses, Fletcher said.
The app also provides directions to local businesses, which can help people from out of town find any businesses they want to visit, she said.
The website is now live and the app is available for Apple and Android smartphones. Business owners can visit the website to request an addition through a free or paid listing.