Small Business Saturday big deal in Mahomet

Mahomet is certainly no stranger to Small Business Saturday, a national shopping trend that encourages consumers to shop local for holiday treasures the Saturday following Thanksgiving Day.

Last Friday afternoon, two Main Street businesses stocked their shelves with seasonal goodies in an effort to prepare for Saturday's increased foot traffic. Yellow & Co., a quaint boutique shop located inside Paint Like ME!'s studio at 415 E. Main St., offered handmade, artisan creations from 25 regional vendors, according to its owner, Elizabeth VanHoutan. Creations included art, candles, décor, jewelry and much more.

When asked what makes her store an absolute must-stop location, VanHoutan said she does not offer the typical run-of-the-mill items.

"I have a somewhat curated collection," said VanHoutan. "I'm pretty picky about what goes in here."

VanHoutan said Yellow & Co.'s Small Business Saturday offerings included a free hot cocoa bar and swag bags for the first 50 shoppers, which each contained local coupons and freebees.

"We were twice as busy this year as last year," said VanHoutan. "We went through the swag bags in the first three hours."

The boutique shop owner credits the power of social media efforts for the surge of Small Business Saturday shoppers.

"We asked how people heard about us and several people said that they saw posts from (an area family-oriented blog)," VanHoutan said.

Offering festive, cozy gift ideas for shoppers, A Quilting Bee's owner, Andrea Kouzmanoff, said her store is a destination shop for both novice and expert quilters. Located at 406 E. Main St., the quilt fabric store provided its shoppers cookies and cider, as well as gift certificate drawings for Small Business Saturday.

Kouzmanoff said Saturday's shoppers traveled from all over the central Illinois and western Indiana regions.

"I'll continue to do Small Business Saturday," Kouzmanoff said. "It's a nice way to kick off the holiday season."

The influx of traffic for all small business owners alone makes Small Business Saturday an overall welcoming event.

"It's nice to see more people go from store to store on Main Street," Kouzmanoff said. "I would like to see even more people participate."

Since its inception, Small Business Saturday benefits not only small businesses but the local economy, too. Wise to the economic impacts shopping local has on the village, VanHoutan said she finds it encouraging to know shoppers also have a heightened awareness of the positive impact of shopping local versus the conglomerate corporations.

"I think people are starting to get it that companies like Amazon are killing small businesses," VanHoutan said.

The success of Main Street's Small Business Saturday is only the start to Mahomet's holiday shopping season.

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