LE CLAIRE, Iowa — One day after Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year, is Small Business Saturday. Several shops in downtown LeClaire were hoping people would continue the shopping spree at local retailers.
Sara Sampson owns Bamboo Baby Boutique on North Cody Road in LeClaire. It sells all sorts of children's clothing, games and toys, and the business was busy on Saturday morning.
"It's like a true small town shopping experience when you're in this sort of a setting," Sampson said. "And that's what makes it unique and fun."
Small businesses like hers rely on the community to shop local.
"We're all in the same community, and we're neighbors, and it just is important to have that sense of community. That's what makes small businesses so great," she said. "We just kind of come together and it's fun in that way.
Sampson added shopping local has a much more personal, one-on-one experience. She gets to know her customers and walks around offering recommendations or helping them find a certain item.
"We're gonna have that one-on-one with our customer," she said. "They're having that hands on help versus they're just kind of trying to navigate through a larger store on their own and figure it out. We're here to have that custom experience with them. And gift wrapping, we do all of that just because that's what makes it extra special."
Sampson opened Bamboo Baby Boutique about three and a half years ago. Throughout the pandemic, she said she's felt supported by her community.
"People still really rallied around even last year," Sampson said. "I felt so much in the sense of support that we always continue to have. It was really great to see that. I felt like there's really been a shift in that way, and people are just staying with that."
Down the street, shoppers were also stopping in to buy candy at The Shameless Chocoholic.
"Because Black Friday is mainly for big corporations, we should have a day for small businesses, so they also get a little bit of appreciation as if it was a big company," said employee Hope Willwerth.
Willwerth also said small businesses have a more personal touch than large retailers.
"It's a lot of stuff that we personalize to our business," Willwerth said. "It's a lot of stuff that we personally handmake, we pick out, while a lot of big corporations, they don't really take the time to."
The small businesses in downtown LeClaire will get some more foot traffic with the 37th annual Christmas in LeClaire coming up. That is scheduled for Dec. 3-5 and will feature the Ugly Christmas Sweater 5k, pictures with Santa and trolley rides.
Last year, the U.S. Small Business Administration reported Americans spent $19.8 billion at independent retailers and restaurants on Small Business Saturday, up from $19.6 billion in 2019.