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Small businesses geared up for start of holiday season

SALISBURY — As the holiday season picks up, small businesses are getting ready for the shopping rush.

Black Friday and Small Business Saturday put a spotlight on local businesses, especially with Rowan County buzzing after the parades. Downtown Salisbury Inc. will host two promotions, Holiday Night Out on Friday and Santa and the Grinch at the Bell Tower on Saturday. Executive Director Larissa Harper said for last year’s events, downtown Salisbury attracted residents and visitors.

“Everyone was ready for this exciting time of year to celebrate and just show support for our small businesses and have a charming downtown such as Salisbury to get out, walk, shop, dine,” Harper said. “It seems like the community really looks forward to this type of event.”

Kitchen Store owner Dennis Lunsford said having a vibrant downtown is important to draw people in, especially for small businesses.

“In the past, they’ve always been good,” Lunsford said. “Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, those two days are pretty close to even. It does help out the small businesses. … I think everyone wants a vibrant downtown with a lot to do but the people have to participate too. We’ve got a lot to do now. There’s a lot to do around here.”

Elaine Spalding, president of the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce, said Small Business Saturday provides a day to encourage shoppers to shop local, while hoping to continue doing so year round.

She said of every dollar spent locally, 63 cents stays in the community supporting local jobs and investments. No money stays in the community if it is spent online, she said.

“The brands that I carry, they’re the same price anywhere,” Lunsford said. “If you compare them to Amazon, Williams Sonoma, any other kitchen store, my prices are the same as theirs. They’re not saving any money, and they’re hurting the city because a lot more money stays in the city when they shop local.”

In China Grove, the community has been supportive of Old Town Soap Co.’s move and expansion, according to owner Beth Engelhardt. 

“Just the support we get from our fellow businesses and the town; the mayor is just phenomenal,” Engelhardt said.

Her husband, Brent, added, “It’s been an adventure. I’m sure it’s going to go on a while more. Every year keeps getting better. The community has been great. The town has been great.”

The shop had a ribbon-cutting last week for the new location at 104 S. Main St. The building has more retail space, storage and a place for Beth to make soaps. The shop was previously at 113 S. Main St. 

“We started in the other one,” Beth said. “I just had a few products, but then we kept expanding and expanding. We literally ran out of room to offer new things. People were coming in asking for things, like room sprays and what not. I got everything to make it but I didn’t have anywhere to put it out. It’s been amazing. I think our customers are very happy with our change being over here.”

Old Town Soap Co. is decorated for the holidays and offers plenty of soaps, bath bombs, lotion candles and more. The couple said with the new location, the shop is more noticeable with people walking down the street. They can also cater to customer’s wants, like making a conditioner.

Lunsford said what sets small businesses apart is a customer being able to interact with the business owner.

“You can talk to the owner,” Lunsford said. “They can ask questions. They can talk to someone knowledgable who can tell them about the product. It’s a whole lot better to buy from a small store like this. You can pick it up, touch it, feel it.”

The community feel is important, Harper said.

“If folks who are visiting — whether they be local or from around the region — if they have that warm and fuzzy feeling about our atmosphere in downtown Salisbury and what kind-hearted business owners we have that will take a moment to interact with them and wish them ‘Happy Holidays,’ they may not shop that night, but you’re going to create that feel-good memory that could bring them back,” Harper said.

Latoya Price, marketing and events coordinator with Downtown Salisbury, said the goal of Holiday Night Out and Santa and the Grinch at the Bell Tower is to showcase the downtown atmosphere.

“During those events, we’re going to be pushing and letting families know to make sure you’re making it downtown, shop at the stores, make sure that you are shopping local because that is an important aspect,” Price said.

She said many downtown Salisbury businesses will extend their hours to be open Friday night.

Holiday Night Out is from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday on Fisher Street. Santa and the Grinch at the Bell Tower is at 11 a.m. Saturday.

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