With Black Friday behind us, local small businesses took over the spotlight Saturday in Paducah, as holiday shoppers flocked downtown to support the community and take advantage of special promotions.

Paducah Main Street’s “There’s No Place Like Local for the Holidays” event brought a festive atmosphere to the area, complete with food trucks; live musicians, who performed classic songs like “Frosty the Snowman;” and free horse-drawn carriage rides for downtown visitors.

Leroy Miller, from the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, area, is one of the visitors who enjoyed a carriage ride with his family. He explained they are in town visiting friends and family, and came out to support the local community.

“I think during COVID-19 ... what’s happening to the small businesses is unfair,” he told The Sun. “It seems like the bigger businesses are being provided a better way to sail through this than the smaller businesses and I want to be a help, instead of a burden.”

He also described the carriage ride as a good opportunity to do something together as a family, and voiced appreciation for the downtown area.

“I think it’s beautiful,” Miller added.

“If they are now starting to continue this remodeling — that it appears that they’re doing — they should keep it up, because it’s beautiful and it’s definitely an attractive place to be. I love the history behind it.”

Meanwhile, just a quick walk away to the Market House Square, Brad Churchwell from Huntingdon, Tennessee, played Christmas songs on the trombone.

He shared that he had been working on cruise ships for years, and with the COVID-19 pandemic, he had been sitting at home and not having opportunities to play. Churchwell said he was raising money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“I’ve been coming here for a while with my mom,” he said.

“When I’m home for Christmas — I’m not home for the holidays very often — but when I am, we often come to Paducah just to see like the ‘Dickens of a Christmas’ or whatever is going on, and we usually go to Patti’s (restaurant). They always have really nice lights and I really enjoyed the ‘Dickens of a Christmas.’ I was hoping I’d have an opportunity to dress up and be a part of that, but this is really fun too. The town’s got a really nice vibe.”

It was all part of the local celebration for “Small Business Saturday,” which is a day founded by American Express in 2010, according to the city. It’s dedicated to supporting small businesses across the country and held annually on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, following Black Friday and before Cyber Monday. Naturally, it’s an important event for downtown business owners.

“Today is like the day that everybody can come out, show their support. Buy it locally,” Raven & Moth owner Erileigh Phalen told The Sun.

“... I think this year, it’s even more important than ever, because small businesses need our local communities to bolster us through this pandemic and really show that we care about these businesses being in our community and we want them to stay.”

The lifestyle boutique moved to its Broadway Street location this past summer, after more than three years in Lower Town. Phalen said it’s “very fortunate,” in regards to COVID-19’s economic impact, because it’s a dual business.

“We are both a store and salon, so people are never going to stop getting their hair done, so we still had people coming in to get their hair,” she said. “They come in and they see the store and they shop and then, they tell their friends, so that has really helped us keep business going through all of this.”

The customer support Saturday also brought joy for downtown business owner Susan Edwards, of Wildhair Studios’ Rock Shop.

She described the Broadway Street business as purveyors of fine esoteric goods, such as books, candles, herbs, sterling silver jewelry, healing crystals and more. It had a big sale for the occasion.

“It just brings me joy because we’re stakeholders and so, we put our heart, our soul and our money into these small businesses, and yes, it’s a way for us to make a living, but it’s also a way to provide goods and services that people want and apparently need,” she said.

“And so, when they reward us by coming down and shopping with us, it’s a serious validation that they support us. It’s like that virtual hug that we all need right now. Thank you.”

Edwards also shared how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the rock shop and noted that it’s doing well.

“The good news is that back in March, when they shut all of the nonessential stores down and we had to close our doors to foot traffic, I was able to pivot rather quickly and do more online and curbside pickup,” she said. “So, we didn’t do badly during the shutdown and, since we’ve been reopened, our customers have just completely supported us.”

According to the city, many of the downtown boutiques and restaurants offer online ordering with delivery or curbside pickup, in addition to traditional in-person shopping. The public also can still participate in a special drawing.

From Saturday until Christmas Eve, people are encouraged to place their names and phone numbers into the mailbox at 203 Broadway. It’s for a chance to win merchandise in the “Win the Window” drawing, which includes various items from businesses like Broussard’s, Wildhair Studios’ Rock Shop, Fetch, Paducah Beer Werks, Cynthia’s and more.

“This year, it’s more important than ever to stay local with your holiday shopping and dining. Some of our local merchants are struggling during this pandemic,” Paducah Main Street director Katie Axt stated, in a news release.

“They rely on Small Business Saturday to kick start the holiday shopping season. When you shop locally, your gift means so much more. You give twice when you buy local because your purchase helps sustain businesses that hold up our community.”

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