GARRETSON, SD (KELO) — The holiday shopping season begins in earnest next week with Black Friday circled on the shopping calendar. Retailers are anticipating a strong start whether they’re located in the mall or on Main Street. The often-heard slogan “shop small” applies especially to small towns.
The shelves are fully-stocked with holiday merchandise at The Treasure Chest on Garretson’s Main Street.
“We get a lot of Christmas stuff in all year long, and we kind of put it away and now, the last couple of weeks, we’ve gone through everything we have and try to get it out,” The Treasure Chest owner Connie Johnson said.
Connie Johnson says toys and puzzles are their big holiday sellers. The store is also gearing up to offer bargains to get more holiday shoppers through the doors.
“Next weekend, all our clothes will be half-off and they’re already pretty cheap. But yeah, we do, every once and a while, we’ll run sales on things, it does bring more people in,” Johnson said.
Small town retailers can be overshadowed by big box stores so they strive to offer perks that you may not find in larger cities.
“Probably a little better customer service, I got to say that. I think we would, more individual service,” Johnson said.
One of the newest businesses in Garretson is Annie’s coffee shop. It opened this spring inside a renovated building that used to be a bowling alley.
“That side was the bowling alley, this was the bar, so where we’re standing was the pool table,” Annie’s owner Annie Webber said.
The pool table has been replaced with a room full of tables for regulars like the board president of Southeast South Dakota Tourism.
“I don’t order, I usually get my coffee cup and help myself because I’m here so much,” Southeast South Dakota Tourism President Kris Frerk said.
Opening a new business in a small town can be a risk during the best times. It’s all the more challenging when interest rates are rising during a period of economic uncertainty.
“And lots of small town owners, they’re not rich people, they’re putting maybe their house on the line or their savings, and they’re going out in a leap of faith, and they’re offering your community a service,” Frerk said.
“People need to support small businesses and I wanted to be part of it and I think more and more people are avoiding the chain stores and supporting the smaller businesses and local people,” Webber said.
Small shops in small towns count upon customers willing to stray from the beaten path for a holiday getaway of shopping and sipping.
“They are so happy to have you come and they need your business,” Frerk said.
Garretson is hosting its Hometown Christmas celebration on Saturday, December 10th, which will include a vendor fair, wine tasting, fire truck rides and a parade of lights.