Shopping small, weather or not

Shopping small, weather or not

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The dreary forecast for Saturday caused a few last minute location changes for last weekend's Small Business Saturday shopping event downtown.

As vendors moved in doors at locations such as Follis and Sons and Teen Town shoppers did not seem to mind the change of plans.

"With the majority being in one building, it made it easy stops for the shoppers," Aimee Kurgas said. "With weather being a concern, I think it made it easy to still want to come out. The only drawback is some of the visual appeal, and the ease of being able to stroll in and out of storefronts while checking out the vendors as well."

Kurgas said Joy Starkey was a huge asset when it came to arranging space for the remaining vendors and organizing spaces and times.

"Without her efforts, the pop ups wouldn't have been nearly as successful," Kurgas said. "I would say it was stressful for sure. It's a lot to try to change on the fly. However, we have amazing support from the local building owners and the city itself made the last minute changes possible."

Kurgas said the pop up vendors were added the last few years to give shoppers more reasons to stay local as well as give vendors who are not yet large enough to have a storefront the chance to join in the event.

"It's good for the actual brick and mortar shops, because it adds more draw for shoppers," Kurgas said. "With more reasons to stay local and stroll around, the more chance that they'll come in your store too. The more chance that you'll be able to gain some new regular customers."

Kurgas said her hope is that some of the pop up shops may one day grow into actual storefronts once enough awareness for their goods is created.

"Overall I think it was a very fun and successful day," Kurgas said. "We didn't get to talk to many of the vendors but the ones we did were all very positive about the turnout they had."

Kurgas said she saw a lot of people out and about commenting on how they had tried to hit every store in the Madison County Chamber of Commerce's passport program.

"We hope that the passport program will have helped people to rediscover how much there is to offer right here at home," Kurgas said. "Sometimes you do have to think outside the box a bit in a smaller community but there are a lot of great shops here that are stocked and ready to serve."

Kurgas said it was really nice to see people being so excited to stay home.

"We saw many groups that had gone out together making a fun day of shopping and staying close to home," Kurgas said. "Some that visited us later in the day even commented that they were now on their way for lunch to round out their shopping day."

"I was so happy with how the day went," Madison County Chamber of Commerce President Tessa Rehkop said. "The vendors said they had so much fun stamping the passports. It started the conversation of where they'd already been and where they could still go shopping."

Rehkop said the shoppers she spoke with said they loved the event because it reminded them of how Fredericktown used to be during Christmas time with the streets and shops downtown buzzing with activity.

"Even though Small Business Saturday is over, there are still lots of great deals and discounts going on at the local shops," Rehkop said. "Still consider shopping local for your holiday gifts. Also, local gift certificates to restaurants and shops make a great gift option for the person that's hard to shop for."

Rehkop said if the community wants to get downtown buzzing everyday like Small Business Saturday, we need to shop local and support the shops we do have.

"People often want to complain about things that aren't here, or aren't updated as soon as they would like," Kurgas said. "A big part of changing both of those things is shopping local. The more you support your local community the more the city is funded to take care of things."

Kurgas said the more you shop local the more draw there is for new businesses to come.

"The more businesses the more jobs, more entertainment options, more revenue for the city to do even more," Kurgas said. "It's a big circle, if we do better at supporting our own, the more we'll have the things we want locally." 

Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Democrat News. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at vkemper@democratnewsonline.com

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