Santa and Ms. Claus with carollers in Old Town for Small Business Saturday.
Photo by Misha Enriquez/Visit Alexandria
If there’s one thing other than the Waterfront that’s definitive Old Town, it’s small businesses. All up and down King Street, locally owned stores gives Alexandria a distinctive flavor. On Saturday, Nov. 25, 50 independent stores throughout Old Town offered special deals and in-store activities for Small Business Saturday. This year, local business owners say that emphasis on Small Business Saturday translated into boosted sales and a fun time by all.
“My business was tripled from last year,” said Megan Podolsky, owner of 529 Kids Consign. “There was a ton of energy in town that day. As a business owner and part of Old Town Boutique District, we definitely need to continue with this energy. We’re becoming more of a force in this area for shopping and, in my humble opinion, a much more special place to shop and be than, say, Arlington. The waterfront and the history here, it’s amazing, people are catching on to that more.”
Podolsky said many of her customers were in from out of town and said that they were guided to local stores by their local family.
“It was fun,” said Podolsky. “Everyone was happy. There was a good energy in town. It was a gorgeous day, the weather was beautiful, and I think Visit Alexandria did a good job promoting it.”
Pierre Paret, owner of Acme Mid-Century + Modern, said the public seemed more engaged with Small Business Saturday than they had been in years past. All along King Street, parking was free at the metered spaces. There was a Santa and Ms. Claus, carolers, gift wrapping and other activities along the street.
“It went quite well for us,” said Paret. “We had Black Friday as well, and then Small Business Saturday. We had a nice increase in foot traffic, more than a typical Saturday. Some of that carried over to Sunday, but there was a drop off. Sales were good, particularly on smaller gift items and smaller pieces of furniture.”
In general, Paret said there seemed to be more promotion by the city about the day than there had been in years past.
“It seemed to get a little more play by the city; it seemed to be emphasized more,” said Paret. “The trend seems to be 10 years ago Black Friday was the big deal, you’d have to be at the door when they open. Now, very few companies do that doorbuster thing anymore, people buy online if they buy at a big store. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are a dying sort of thing, where Small Business Saturday is growing.”
Paret said the activities along King Street helped push business towards local stores, as when Santa stopped by the store for a photo op or Mayor Allison Silberberg visited and spoke with customers about the importance of local stores.