BREMERTON — Small Business Saturday: A day for community members to pass up big box stores and patronize their area’s locally owned businesses.
“(Small Business Saturday) is to help you realize what you have available to you in the community,” said DeeDee Easler, one of the owners of Hot Java Café. “So if you need that last little gift or stocking stuffer, something unique … the bookstore, gift certificate (for Hot Java), Purpose Boutique. I think that’s the good think about Saturday, just walking around and checking out your neighborhood and see what you have in your community is what’s important, I think.”
Downtown Bremerton is full of small businesses, many within easy walking distance of each other. These businesses range from salons to restaurants, books to fabrics, photographers to costumes and more.
“I think that businesses, no matter the size, have an obligation to provide something the customers want,” Melissa Dylan, owner of Dylan’s Fabrics, said. “So I strive to make this a business that people want to visit, regardless of its size, regardless of whether or not it’s locally owned.”
Dylan said that the benefit of shopping at small businesses, though, is the ability that business has to cater to its customers.
“I think small businesses can do a lot for the community as well, offering things that the chains can’t,” she said. “If someone comes in and asks me for something personally, I can get it on the shelves by the next week. The big stores won’t do that.”
Dylan added that there’s a greater level of customer service in small businesses as well.
“What I like about Small Business Saturday is, it helps remind people that we exist,” she said.
To Kate Daniels, a Liberty Bay Books employee, said that small businesses, to her, are stores “that benefit the community instead of a big corporation that’s maybe out of state or benefitting more people on top instead of the community.”
“We’re building up the community,” Daniels said. “Everybody talks about how they want downtown Bremerton to come back, but that’s not going to happen unless people come and support all those businesses that will make this place thrive again.”
And even though Small Businesses Saturday is Nov. 26, the day after Black Friday, many stores are having specials, giveaways and events.
Liberty Bay Book will be hosting four authors (Ben Clanton at 11 a.m.; Toni Yuli at 1 p.m.; A.J. Banner at 2 p.m.; and Kate Breslin at 3 p.m.); Dylan’s Fabrics is giving away some surprises to the early shoppers; ISH Vintage Costumes and Clothing will be selling their vintage clothing at 15-percent off. There are so many deals to discover, just by walking around your hometown.
“By shopping local, you’re supporting our local businesses — the taxes they pay then stay in our community,” said Gena Wales with the Bremerton Chamber of Commerce.”
Holly Duncan, with ISH, said that shopping locally is “really good for the local economy.”
“I’ve only ever worked for independent companies, for 15 years,” she said. “It keeps everybody around here having a job, it brings money back into the community. I think having something like Small Business Saturday really just shows people that, instead of going out and supporting corporations, come out and support the little guys and help take care of everybody that lives here.”
Easler said that unlike Corporate America, small businesses are “more like families instead of jobs,” or at least that’s what she strives for at Hot Java.
“I used to work for Corporate America, and they don’t care about the little people anymore,” Easler said. “I just think that small businesses are better for the country … better for the community. Makes us whole.”
Daniels agreed with that sentiment.
“We do a lot more for people than a corporation,” she said. “Having worked for corporations in the past, and now working for a small business like (Liberty Bay Books), it is so nice to be able to treat people like humans.”
And if the employees of one business is like a family, one thing Downtown Bremerton businesses can attest to is each business is like another branch on the family tree.
“It’s great to support people in your own community, your neighbors,” said Dylan. “It’s not just a matter of helping each other out, it’s a matter of, we’re all in this together.”
Easler said, “I couldn’t give a shout out to just one of us. I think we’re a rocking community right now. I love everybody down here.”