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After Black Friday came Small Business Saturday, which continued the holiday shopping rush by drawing people into downtown for deals and the many shops that line the downtown corridor.

The Klamath Falls Downtown Association hosted the day of shopping and owner of Painted Pieces, Liz Nelson, organized a Shop Hop, which included 16 businesses. For every $10 people spent at the stores that participated in the Shop Hop, they received a raffle ticket to enter for a seven-day trip of their choosing.

Nelson said she noticed an “awesome” turnout, even by 11 a.m. Saturday, and was thankful it wasn’t snowing as she was afraid that would keep people inside for the day.

“I thought it would be fun to get all of the businesses involved together and as a community promote shopping local,” Nelson said. “I just thought it would be fun to have cool prizes to get people excited, the owners all seem excited about it. I just thought it would be fun, and it’s been a successful day from what I’ve seen.”

Local convenience

“I think we often just forget, and it’s convenient to shop online and so people forget about, especially downtown, like before we had a store I literally never came down here. So it’s good to remind people about all of the local shops because there’s so much cool stuff down here.”

She felt even more people took to downtown this year than last year for the occasion.

Millie Dearing and Kristin Sayles ventured out to Painted Piece for Small Business Saturday, which they said they help celebrate every year.

“I know a lot of young people that are starting businesses and I want them to grow and to be prosperous, so they’ll come back,” Dearing said. “I think people are realizing that. If they keep their money here, we’re going to grow. If they send their money away, we’re not going to grow.”

They said they don’t do Black Friday, although they do enjoy a healthy mix of big box stores and smaller businesses downtown in Klamath Falls.

Pursuing chocolates

The Disabled American Veterans also had a Chocolate Walk at certain downtown businesses at which people could get specialty chocolates at the stores they visited. People could also vote for their favorite chocolates back at the DAV booth at Sugarman’s Corner.

Klamath Falls Mayor Carol Westfall officially proclaimed the day as Small Business Saturday.

Maarit Taylor came downtown from Malin with her daughter Sabrina for the chocolate walk when Maarit’s friend told her about it. She said her motivation to brave the streets that were still icy in spots was two-fold because of the chocolates and the opportunity to support a local veteran association. She said her son-in-law is a veteran, so she knew she had to make the drive Saturday morning to “combine two of the things that I love. My son-in-law and chocolate.”

“The other thing is that I think it’s good, you know, you’ve got a fundraiser for the veterans and you get chocolate. And you get to go to all of these different places. It’s a good idea.”

Business participation

Maarit was shocked by how many businesses participated in the chocolate walk.

“I am really really blown away that this many businesses here decided to participate in this,” she said. “It’s great.”

Klamath Falls Downtown Association Executive Director Darin Rutledge said they continue to do it because it’s important to remind people to invest in community businesses.

“A strong downtown means that buildings are full and that small businesses are doing well, and we celebrate our small businesses all the time, but this is the one time a year that we get to remind everybody else that, hey, support our small, locally owned businesses,” he said. “They’re the ones that sponsor our baseball teams and make donations to local charitable organization and that kind of thing.”

Small Business Saturday began in 2010 when American Express sponsored the event across the country as a follow up to Black Friday to drive business back into the economies of communities.

According to American Express, “Over the years, Small Business Saturday spending has now reached a reported estimate of $103 billion since the day began in 2010 — that’s $103 billion over 9 days alone.”

American express provides goodies like the tote bags, stickers and posters for those who sign up as a “Neighborhood Champion” to participate in Small Business Saturday.

A downtown community

Nelson also felt the love from other businesses, saying it’s nice when the stores downtown all share each other’s posts on Facebook and help each other to grow their customers.

“It’s fun to cross-promote each other and, just, as a community get people downtown,” she said.

While this year was a success, Nelson said she had even more businesses wanting to be a part of the Shop Hop after she had begun organizing it and already has a list of those wanting to be involved next year.