Customers sold on small businesses
Waukesha’s downtown front and center on Small Business Saturday

By Josh Perttunen - Freeman Staff

Dec. 3, 2013

Beth Tomaszewski, front, of Waukesha looks for Small Business Saturday deals at Bangles & Bags with her sister Julie Harris, who is visiting from Duluth, Minn. 
Josh Perttunen/Freeman Staff

WAUKESHA - Offering nimble, unique and filling niches that the big box stores can’t cater to, Waukesha’s downtown businesses rolled out the red carpet for customers on Small Business Saturday this past weekend. This welcoming atmosphere included discounts on store merchandise and open doors up and down the street.

Customers at Bangles & Bags, Martha Merrell’s and Plowshare Gifts shared their reasons for shopping on this day.

Julie Harris of Duluth, Minn., and her sister, Beth Tomaszewski of Waukesha, were browsing at Bangles & Bags. Shopping for gifts is a combination of Black Friday sales and Small Business Saturday sales, they said.

“This is not the only stop,” Tomaszewski said early Saturday afternoon. “Just the first one.”

Barb Kilpatrick of Waukesha finds just the gifts she was looking for at Martha Merrell's on Saturday. This was the first stop on her trip to downtown Waukesha for Small Business Saturday.
Josh Perttunen/Freeman Staff

Barb Kilpatrick of Waukesha was on a mission at Martha Merrell’s. Judging by her smile in the children’s book aisle, it was mission accomplished.

“My daughter is a teacher and she wanted the holiday books ‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving’ and ‘I Know an Old Lady who Swallowed A Pie,’” she said. “I was able to find them both. Now she can read them to her class next year.”

Don and Donna Lobacz could be found in Plowshare Gifts, examining and trying on outfits. They support small, local businesses every year at this time, Donna said, but this is the first year in which the couple is making a conscious decision not to support the big box stores.

Don Lobacz helps his wife Donna try on clothes at Plowshare Gifts in downtown Waukesha during Small Business Saturday. 
Josh Perttunen/Freeman Staff

“Coming down here is a tradition,” Don explained. “We walk to downtown Waukesha from where we live near Carroll University, we have coffee and breakfast at Cafe De Arts and then we walk down the street and shop.”

Small Business Saturday is bookended by Black Friday and Cyber Monday, forming a trifecta of post-Thanksgiving holiday shopping days.

The effort of customers to shop local on this day is vital for business, said Plowshare Gifts store manager Sara Allison.

“It’s been the best sales day of the year so far,” she said. “During this time of year, it is crucial that people recognize the importance of shopping locally at small businesses.”