NEW ULM — Small Business Saturday may have supplanted Black Friday as the top shopping day, at least locally.
Downtown New Ulm Businesses saw a spike in customers following Thanksgiving on both Friday and Saturday. Black Friday is often cited as the biggest shopping day of the year, but through local promotion, Small Business Saturday might be more important for local businesses.
Jessica Fischer, co-owneer of Gallery 512 said Small Business Saturday is one of their favorite days of the year. The shopping holiday always brings in a crowd.
Fischer said the weather this year was also a benefit. The temerpature was higher than normal for late November, with temperatures in the high 40s or low 50s throughout the day. This meant greater foot traffic in the downtown area.
Gallery 512’s tradition is to have a table of seasonal treats for customers right inside the front door, provided by Becky’s Bakes. This year, they had autumn cupcakes.
Asked what items were the most popular this year, Fischer said many customers were buying jackets and cardigans in preparation for cooler weather.
Bailey Creek Boutique also saw a run on jackets. The jacket/shirt combination or “shacket” was their number one seller, but pants and footwear were also selling well.
Bailey Creek owner Sandy Reinke confirmed Small Business Saturday was the biggest sales day of the weekend. She said Black Friday is a strong day, but historically, there is more customer traffic on Small Business Saturday.
Bailey Creek also saw an increase in popularity thanks to a TikTok video featuring Reinke that went viral. The video features Reinke wearing multiple layers of clothing from the store at one time. The TikTok proved popular and inspired some to visit from out of town. Kayleen McGaheran from Owatonna specifically came to New Ulm to visit the shop after seeing the TikTok.
The Guten Tag Haus saw a high volume of customers over the weekend. Cindy Stabenow confirmed Black Friday saw a high volume of tourists, with Saturday bringing a higher number of local shoppers.
Stabenow said there is generally an uptick of shoppers during the Christmas season, but said the store’s greatest sales days are actually during Oktoberfest weekends. Black Friday and Small Business Saturday are usually the second highest.
During the Christmas season Guten Tag Haus sells a variety of Christmas ornaments. Stabenow said most people are buying presents for those based on theme. Everyone has their favorite decorating theme. For some it is dogs, for others it icicles.
Christmas collectables are another popular item. The new seasonal nutcrackers sell well. Many customers are looking for German-themed items. Stabenow said the ginger cottages are very popular. The small wooden homes made great seasonal decorations. Since the ginger cottages are hollow, a small light can be put inside for extra illumination.
A to Zinnia was the first stop for many holiday shoppers. In addition to the variety of Christmas decorations, customers could even shop for a Christmas Tree in the green house. There was a strong demand for natural greenery. Staff said the spruce pot kits were selling faster than they could be made.
The Sweet Tonic products were also selling fast. Customers were buying Sweet Tonic bottles as stocking stuffers.
In terms of holiday decorations, each local store saw different trends among shoppers. A to Zinnia said neutral decorations such as browns, tans and cream colors were popular. The vintage looks were popular.
Bailey Creek reported the plaid and flannel designs were in. Inspired cited the natural coloring as a customer favorite.
Though Small Business Saturday did bring in out of town shoppers, the trend was to see more local shoppers.
Store employees said traditionally tourists visited New Ulm stores on Black Friday while local shoppers visit on Saturday.
Jeanie Hinsman and Peggy Sundell at New Ulm’s Own Fair Trade store confirmed their trend was to see out-of-towners come in on Friday and see familiar locals on Saturday.
Hinsman said both days were busy for the Fair Trade store. The three popular items at New Ulm’s Own were chocolates, coffee and Christmas decorations.
Hinsman and Sundell expect more Christmas shoppers over the next month. This will be New Ulm’s last Christmas at its current location.
At the end of this season, New Ulm’s Own will be closing for a few months to swap locations with the knitting shop, NadelKnunst. New Ulm’s Own will be moving into the storefront location and NadelKunst will move to rear location. New Ulm’s Own will close on Dec. 23 and reopen in March.
Though the Small Business Saturday promotions are over, many of the local businesses will continue holiday sales through December.
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