Franklin residents purposely shop small for charm of Main Street

Shoppers in Franklin, Ind. on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019. (WTHR/Sarah Jones)

FRANKLIN, Ind. (WTHR) - Residents and visitors queued outside the Franklin Chamber of Commerce on Saturday.

As they walked in, they were offered a tote with the words “Small Business Saturday,” printed across white canvas.

“A lot of our businesses tell us this is their busiest shopping day,” said Executive Director of the Franklin Chamber of Commerce Rosie Chambers.

Local merchants and the chamber have partnered to create incentives, such as raffles and discounts, to encourage people to shop local on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving.

It’s part of a movement started by American Express in 2010. The credit card company says small business spending has reached over $100 billion because of Small Business Saturday.

“It’s nice to build our customer base on this day,” said Molly Frische, owner of Bricks Street Boutique.

“It’s a great boost, but one day doesn’t make or break your store. I look on it more in terms of getting new customers in and hoping they continue to support us throughout the rest of the year,” she added.

Some shoppers took advantage of sales to find gifts for themselves. Others, like Jean and Don Cline shopped for holiday gifts.

“We have five grandsons,” said Don Cline.

But where he and his wife choose to spend their dollars is done intentionally and with purpose.

“We want the small businesses to stay downtown, and we figure if we support them, we help that,” said the Clines.

And Chambers said there’s research to back up that buying local makes a difference.

“Sixty-seven cents of every dollar spent in your local community stays in your local community,” said Chambers.

Chambers also said that local business attracts residents, and if those residents own a business, it also attracts a workforce. “Because people want to work where they live,” explained Chambers.

The charm of downtown Franklin stores and boutiques is one of the reasons the Clines said they moved to Franklin. Don grew up in Muncie, and says there aren’t very many local shops there anymore.

Chambers says a community needs local and corporate retailers. “I think we need both. We need those larger stores, but we also need those small stores, as well,” said Chambers.

Many residents and customers on Small Business Saturday said they prefer to shop local.

Store owners in Franklin said they hope when new customers choose to shop local on Small Business Saturday, that they also continue to come back throughout the year.