Community supports small biz
ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Communities on both sides of the Ohio River celebrated and supported local entrepreneurs on Small Business Saturday.
The St. Clairsville Area Chamber of Commerce office was a hub of activity. Chamber Director Wendy Anderson said 20 small businesses in the city were participating.
“That’s in town and out of town,” she said.
In addition, she said several businesses in Bellaire were also participating, along with others in Morristown.
“This is a bigger year than last year,” she added. “In the three years I’ve been here, this is the biggest year we’ve had.”
Groups of shoppers stopped by one store or another when the day kicked off at 9 a.m.
“They’re getting out of the house on Small Business Saturday. … I know that everybody’s ready for this Small Business Saturday,” she continued. “We have to keep it local and we have to keep it strong.”
The chamber itself had gift bags to hand out from NovaCare Rehabilitation in St. Clairsville as well as bags from Belmont Savings Bank. Anderson added that people also dropped off toys for the upcoming Operation Toy Lift, scheduled for Dec. 7 at the Ohio Valley Mall, and the Youth Services System Toy Drive on Dec. 5 at the Belmont County Safety Council meeting at the J.B. Martin Recreation Center.
Boy Scouts from Troop 66 were also on hand to make popcorn and to offer free bags of the snack to shoppers on Main Street.
“We were asked to come and give out some popcorn and hot chocolate, and we said sure,” Scoutmaster Bryan Garloch said.
Envy Hair Salon offered deals and gifts throughout the day.
“We do it every year, small business. We’re big into the community of St. Clairsville. We love our regulars and the small-town feel,” owner Gail Poling said.
“When we’re in town, we always come up to get haircuts,” Natalie Gainer of Morgantown, W.Va., said. She and her family enjoy visiting the area stores after Thanksgiving. “They’re very accommodating, and my kids really like coming up here. … We’re excited to come out and about and check everything out uptown.”
“It’s awesome to have the support of the community and everyone coming in,” Kerith Palmer, owner of The Boutique on Main, said. She opened her doors in June and was impressed with the turnout Saturday. “This is my first year open during Small Business Saturday.”
Shoppers from close to home and farther afield enjoyed the day.
“I come up every year for this. My friends own some businesses, and it’s just a nice day with friends,” Phyllis Delloma of St. Clairsville said.
“We are just excited to celebrate this small business day,” Sara Myser of St. Clairsville said. “We love the small businesses around St. Clairsville. … They have a relationship with the customer.”
“It’s just fun to shop around,” Taylre Dugan of Atlanta, Georgia, said. She reacquainted herself with many old friends. “I grew up here.”
“It’s a very cute little store,” Savannah Stout of Oklahoma said of Three Labs Salvage. “It’s a lot different than shopping at any retail store. You find a lot of unique items and gifts here.”
Shoppers came out in large numbers at Centre Market in Wheeling, too, and visited the small shops throughout the area.
“We’re bringing our family from Kentucky up to visit,” William Stokes of New Martinsville said. “We’re just out looking at the unique shops. The things they don’t have at home, the non-franchise, non-chain stores.”
“Our nephew actually owns a small business in Kentucky, and so it’s neat for him to see how the others are laid out,” Charleen Stokes, his wife, said. “We come from a family that does a lot of small business.”
“I like the fact that the town supports small business a lot better than other areas,” their nephew, Brian Alder of the Lexington, Kentucky, area said. He added that the experience is preferable to Black Friday’s rush. “I actually avoid shopping on Black Friday like the plague.”
“We love to come here,” Amy McGreal of Wheeling said.
“It’s been great today. A lot of out-of-town people and a lot of people buying,” Wendy Polack, owner of Antiques on the Market, said. “It’s been busy since we opened this morning. … A lot of people come down here with their families. … They’re from here. They’ve moved away and come back to visit.”
“I love Small Business Saturday,” Amanda Carney, owner of Cat’s Paw Art Studio, said. “I really think it does give people a nice incentive to see what we have in town. … Not only does it excite people in the community, but it also helps a lot of the people who might need that extra kick before the holiday season. … Even before I started my business, I really liked the idea of buying locally, buying small, supporting the community. You really do know where your money’s going.”