Town residents ‘shop small’

Published 11:28 am Tuesday, November 28, 2017

In addition to shopping at large retailers during Thanksgiving weekend, members of the Heart of Virginia also showed downtown Farmville businesses support during Small Business Saturday.

Their support was due in part to the Farmville Downtown Partnership, which handed out tote bags, stickers and gave shoppers a choice of a gift card to area restaurants between 8-10 a.m., including Walker’s Diner and Uptown Coffee Cafe.

Farmville Downtown Partnership Program Manager John Burton and Communications Committee Volunteer Jennifer Kinne offered bags and gift cards to passerbys at the downtown plaza.

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Despite the chilly weather, they exchanged warm words and smiles with different members of the community and shoppers.

Burton said the Small Business Saturday initiative had been conceived eight years ago by credit card company American Express, which sought to encourage shoppers to support locally-owned and operated small businesses.

Burton said the partnership decided to join in on the support, and hopes the gifts will inspire residents and visitors to make new memories in the town.

“It’s a really great way we can remind people who are out and about to shop at small businesses, and help them by having them enjoy breakfast on us,” Burton said.

Burton said he estimated that he and Kinne had handed out approximately 60 gift cards and 40 tote bags to community members and visitors. He said all of the small businesses downtown also received tote bags labeled “Shop Small,” which were in turn given to customers.

Walker’s Diner also saw several customers. Steve Graham, who owns the restaurant with Loretta Graham, his wife and Rob Chapman, said he can expect Small Business Saturday as a potential uptick in business.

“I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be really busy,” Graham said. “(We) have a lot of great local support.”

Betty and Allen Easter, who were enjoying breakfast, said they understand the impact of local support on businesses as they own a shed manufacturing company in Cumberland County called Buggy Top Utility Barns and Sheds.

While a wedding and funeral would prevent them from doing a lot of shopping in town, they said they make a point to shop local when possible.

Jason Mattox, who owns Uptown Coffee Cafe, said while the early mornings were not very busy, he said most customers will often come later in the day.

“I think it’s great,” Mattox said about area support during Small Business Saturday. “We hope people will come out, go into town and shop.”