WEST JEFFERSON —Crowds flooded downtown West Jefferson this past weekend making it one of the biggest spending weekends yet for many local businesses.
Many came out to enjoy shopping away from larger chain stores for American shopping holidays, the so-called Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, on Nov. 27-28.
Small Business Saturday, a nationally recognized and coordinated shopping event held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, was first observed on Nov. 27, 2010 and encourages holiday shoppers to forego the big box stores and shop small and local instead.
Bobby Scarlett, owner of Scarlett Creek, predicted this weekend would be busier than usual. That proved to be true since Scarlett said that Friday, Nov. 27 ended up being the company’s biggest earning day since opening at their current location in 2012. Scarlett also said that their Black Friday sales were double what they were last year with most customers buying a variety of items such as jewelry and scarves.
Restaurants such as Sweet and Savory Bakery and Deli also saw above average crowds this weekend.
According to Tiffany Shatley of Sweet and Savory, the restaurant had to close two hours early on Friday after running out of several kinds of breads used for their sandwiches.
The Ashe County Chamber of Commerce had nearly 165 people stop by on Friday according to Robin Privette. An additional 145 came through on Saturday, compared to only 85 last Saturday.
According to Holly Mcarthur of Asheboro, North Carolina, her family is visiting Ashe County to purchase their Christmas tree and to get away from the typically chaotic Black Friday shopping.
“This year we chose a small town instead of a big town,” Mcarthur said.
Holiday Farmer’s Market
Created on the Mountain owners Amanda Gentry and Wendy Painter setup at the Holiday Farmer’s Market to sell their organically grown popcorn on Saturday, Nov. 28.
The duo also works to help promote and represent local artists and businesses such as the Buffalo Tavern Bed and Breakfast, Healing Springs Soaps and Grassy Creek Pottery.
Gentry and Painter met at the Lansing Farmer’s Market and decided to create a way to help local businesses work together.
“The only way to survive is to work together,” Gentry said.
For Gentry, supporting local businesses at events such the Holiday Farmer’s Market is crucial.
“It’s very important for people to come out and support,” Gentry said, “and it’s fun, you get to meet people. That’s the great part.”
Sonya Vannoy of High Mountain Farms, which offers locally grown non-genetically modified corn meal and grits as well as homemade breads and jellies, also agreed that the Holiday Farmer’s Market is important for local businesses to showcase their products.
“It gives us a lot of exposure to the community and people visiting,” Vannoy said. “We enjoy it and it’s good for us.”
According to Christy Hoffman, owner of Foxfire Holler Fiber Arts, shopping local offers more benefits than shopping at chain stores.
“Where does that money go? It’s not helping your neighbor,” Hoffman said.
According to Hoffman, spending just $20 in her store allows her to then spend that $20 at another local business.
“For every gift you buy in a small business, you are enabling someone else to buy a gift,” Hoffman said. “It’s a circle and it can benefit everybody.”
Syndi and Renée Brooks, owners of the Quilt Square Girls, believe shopping local saved downtown West Jefferson.
“I think shopping locally is what brought West Jefferson back to life,” Syndi said. “We struggled for a long time and now the fact that people care enough about the local businesses to come out to help bring this town back to life, it’s wonderful.”
Both agreed that shopping locally provides a unique atmosphere for those looking for Christmas gifts.
“I think it’s a different atmosphere,” Syndi said. “I think shopping local is fun since you’re not driving 30 minutes around a mall parking lot. You’re out meeting friends and neighbors.”
Renée said that the spirit of West Jefferson seems to come directly from shopping local.
“They don’t necessarily have to buy anything, but we love for them to come in,” Renée said about their customers.
“It’s the hugs and warmth and meeting people,” Syndi said. “That’s what the magic of Christmas is really.”
Hannah Myers can be reached at 336-846-7164 or on Twitter @cmedia_hmyers.