Holiday shopping keeps many local stores in business

Friday, November 30, 2019
News 12 at 11 o'clock

AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - You hear about the big box retailers a lot during the holiday season, but Black Friday is a huge boost to local businesses too.

It was a crazy scene as doors opened at the Swank Company on Fury's Ferry Road. Some shoppers spent the night on air mattresses to get the deals.

In fact, the first people got in line at 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving day, and waited more than 12 hours for the doors to open.

Both Aiken and Augusta's downtown businesses have also been busy.

Many of the stores here in downtown are family-owned, and this time of year is essential.

"Without the holiday season in general, we wouldn't be able to survive all season long," said Catherine Gouge, a manager of two boutiques, Pitter Patter and Caroline's, in downtown Aiken.

The holiday season keeps their store open, and it has for 15 years.

"When we hit the end of the year, we are always looking at our goals and our numbers," Gouge said. "We wouldn't anywhere close without November and December. Not even in the ballpark."

But, they aren't alone. The Aiken Chamber of Commerce says this time of year is make it or break it for the whole downtown.

And, it's no different in Augusta. The Metro Chamber of Commerce says businesses are leveraging small business Saturday and Black Friday together.

The local businesses are still offering great deals, but local shops are bringing something the big box stores can't.

"When you go into a big box store and you're looking for a gift for a 5-year-old, no one is going to be there to help you find that," Gouge said. "Whereas if you come in here, we have recommendations, and options and we'll wrap it for you. Making sure it's really a special occasion."

They want to make shopping a personal experience, just like gift-giving.

For these businesses, spending money downtown, is the gift that keeps on giving.

"Just a reminder that, you know, we have a downtown," Gouge said. "If you don't support it, it won't be here."

Many of the local businesses say they are seeing more foot traffic. They say some people are wanting to avoid the big crowds of Black Friday.

For many local stores, the big focus during the holidays is Small Business Saturday.