Shopping small: Downtown SJ preps for Small Business Saturday

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

ST. JOSEPH — Downtown St. Joseph businesses were bustling with preparation and sales Friday.

Many owners got a jumpstart on Small Business Saturday by offering deals that began Friday, while shoppers gradually moved from big box stores to smaller, locally owned ones.

Erik and Demrhy Youngquist offered deals not only because of Small Business Saturday or Black Friday, but also because it was their one-year anniversary since buying Purely Michigan at 406 State St.

“We’re definitely thankful for being here,” Erik Youngquist said. “It’s been great running the business for a year, so we want to give back during the holidays.”

On Saturday, Purely Michigan will also host Greenbush Brewing Co., which will be bringing a sample of their beers.

As a way to promote one of their giveaways, the Youngquists hung a larger-than-life Stormy Kromer hat from the ceiling at the front of their store. Among their other promotional ideas for Small Business Saturday and the Christmas season was a drawing for a gift basket. They then decided to give away a free Stormy Kromer hat once a week through December 24.

At FuzzyButz Pet Bakery, owner Mary Schaut said they were offering 15 percent off everything in the store from Friday and Saturday.

They’ve done sales like these for several years to take advantage of the influx of shoppers.

“We get busy Friday, but it’s later in the day after they’ve already hit the big box stores,” Schaut said. “They come downtown and want to see more personable items you can’t find elsewhere.”

Like other downtown stores, FuzzyButz is extending its hours for Small Business Saturday. Schaut said it’ll be open until 8 p.m. this weekend, instead of the normal 6 p.m closing time.

“There’s a lot of foot traffic, a lot of people coming down for dinner and dessert from Chocolate Cafe,” Schaut said. “We’ll be here.”

Andy Vescolani took over The Toy Company last year around November. He’s gone another route from the other businesses.

From a promotional standpoint, The Toy Company hasn’t done anything too differently. But Vescolani said they have upped their game for gift wrapping and product recommendations.

“Small Business Saturday in particular was wonderful (last year),” Vescolani said. “With the competition from online sales to big box stores, it’s hard to survive without the support of the community.

“This time of year is great, because we’re seeing those smiling faces,” he said. “People are a lot more receptive this time of year to recommendations. We’ve been going to international toy shows and conferences trying to find the best toys.”

Contact Tony Wittkowski at or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Nov. 26, 2016)


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