Despite inflation and other economic concerns, retailers in Pasadena joined businesses across the country in reporting strong sales during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, kicking off the holiday shopping season.
Though Black Friday has been synonymous with online deal hunting and shopping on e-commerce sites, in-person purchasing staged a comeback during this year’s this Black Friday, a trend expected to continue during the rest of the winter spending season, according to the LA Times.
Pasadena retailers sounded enthusiastic about strong sales during Small Business Saturday, the day after Black Friday, as the initiative drew shoppers back into stores.
Local small businesses like Lather and Vin de California Winery told Pasadena Now that “business is great” this holiday season.
Emilie Hoyt, founder of Lather, which offers fragrance-free natural skincare and wellness products, reported record-breaking sales last Saturday.
“It exceeded our expectations! We had a line of people waiting prior to us opening our door. Our number of transactions increased by 225% from the previous Saturday and we exceeded our daily goal by 20%.”
According to Hoyt, the Small Business Saturday initiative helped new customers discover their business and shop for friends and family.
Better sales were reported on Small Business Saturday as compared to Black Friday, because “there is a lot of competition online when it comes to Black Friday,” said Hoyt.
Jacqueline Jensen, Lather’s store manager, said most of the Small Business Saturday sales were attributed to new customers who had never shopped with Lather prior to that Saturday.
“Small Business Saturday was great!” Kate Vourvoulis, Owner of Vin de California Winery, told Pasadena Now. “It is so wonderful how supportive our community is for our small shop.”
Vourvoulis said the initiative brought customers to their shop.
“I think people who would not normally know to seek out a specialty shop for wine or know who we are, heard about us and were curious. Then we have the chance to talk about what we love most with new people — Pasadena and wine!” she said.
April Hicks, owner of clothing store April Blooms, said her store’s sales from Small Business Saturday increased by over 30% from last year.
While she recognized that the initiative helped boost the sales of small businesses, Hicks believes this would not be enough to help businesses thrive.
“I think it (Small Business Saturday) was a success based on how things have been,” said Hicks. “It’s like they remember us on that day, which is great, but that’s not enough to kind of keep us going for the rest of the year and just throughout.”
“It’s kind of not enough. I don’t want to seem like I’m ungrateful for the day, but I have today, tomorrow, and the rest of the year to think about too.”
Hicks urged continued support to the local business community as she noted that several stores have already closed down in the last two years due to the pandemic.
“We don’t like seeing vacant spots and every time I see a business that is closed down, it kind of breaks my heart in a way, because I know what it takes to be in business and the effort you make.”
Steve Mulheim, President and CEO of Old Pasadena Management District said most businesses reported an increase in Small Business Saturday sales.
“Old Pasadena is busy on Black Friday, but not [insanely] busy like big box retailers. We thrive on Small Business Saturday because of our wealth of independent retailers, which make up about 70% of all Old Pas businesses. We put a lot of resources into events for that day and we had multiple reports of people lining up for the store to open.”
“All reported a busy day and most reported an increase to last year’s sales. It’s almost always a wide range, with some businesses doing really well, others just keeping pace with last year, and some not seeing what they hoped.”
While e-commerce has been getting more competitive, Mulheim believes this could not replace the in-person shopping experience, which many people still prefer.
“There are people who like online shopping, but there are many people who want to see it and touch it before they buy. Because 70% of Old Pas businesses are independently owned, their goods are unique and not usually online.”
“People still love the experience of coming downtown, window shopping, stopping for a bite to eat. I think especially having been isolated so much over the last several years, people want to be out and about!”
On November 1, Mayor Victor Gordo signed a proclamation declaring Saturday, Nov. 26 as Small Business Saturday.
“It is important to support our City’s valued small businesses, which create jobs, boost our local economy, and preserve our neighborhoods,” the proclamation read.
Small Business Saturday has its roots from an American Express initiative that started on Nov. 27, 2010, as a counterpart to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which originally featured big box retail and e-commerce stores.