Small Business Saturday bustles in Westmoreland County
Small Business Saturday is a big deal to shops in downtown Greensburg and Irwin, which pulled out all the stops for one of the biggest days of their holiday season.
Gray skies and morning rain didn’t keep customers away.
“I’m pleasantly surprised, considering the weather,” said Mary Wilmes, who owns Penelope’s on South Pennsylvania Avenue in Greensburg. “It’s always one of our busiest shopping days of the year.”
Small Business Saturday is relatively new compared to it’s big-box cousin, Black Friday. It started in 2010, organized by credit card company American Express. Over the last few years it’s grown into a significant event in its own right.
Shoppers wandered down busy streets laden with tote bags, some brought from home, some with the day’s logo: “Shop Small.”
“Those bags go quick,” said Jessica Hickey, founder of the Downtown Greensburg Project, which gave out Small Business Saturday merchandise in Greensburg.
Many of the bags were filled with gifts found at local boutiques.
“I found this cute little gnome, I love him,” said Dottie Dixon, of Irwin.
It was Dixon’s first Small Business Satuday. She usually foregoes Black Friday but wanted to show support for her hometown shops in downtown Irwin.
“It’s the corner of our society,” she said.
Chrys Sebula, owner of Curious Cat Boutique in Irwin, said she had customers lining up before the store opened.
“Our Saturdays are pretty busy anyway, but this is exceptional,” she said.
She’s been in business about 20 years, and has seen Small Business Saturday’s popularity skyrocket over the last few.
Kevin McDonald, co-owner of Irwin’s Main Street Music, said he was twice as busy as a normal Saturday.
The Downtown Irwin Business Association hosts dozens of events throughout the year, he said. It makes Irwin a shopping destination, which pays off during the holiday shopping season.
“We have a particularly vibrant downtown district here,” he said. “People are down here, not just to go to my store, but to make the rounds.”
Despite malls and big box stores and Amazon, local small business owners are upbeat that their shops can still thrive.
“People want to come to the store,” said Kevin Miscik, owner of Lapels Men’s Store on Pennsylvania Avenue in Greensburg. “They want to touch it, feel it, try it on. They want to talk to someone.”
Of course, business owners hope this feeling doesn’t evaporate once the weekend is over.
“It would be nice if small business day was every day,” Wilmes said.
Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jacob at 724-836-6646, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @Soolseem.