ALBERT LEA, Minn. (KTTC) – For businesses in smaller counties such as Freeborn, Mower and Fillmore, it can be hard to gain new customers. But on Small Business Saturday, many communities are finding ways to help keep local vendors in town in innovative ways.
At the Northbridge Mall and American Legion in Albert Lea, vendors were able to set up and showcase their goods to their community.
Albert Lea encourages shopping through a passport, which gets stamped each time you buy at a local business and can enter you in a prize drawing.
“We talk a lot about how spending your money here stays in the community. More shopping here locally in town means our businesses can thrive and stay open,” said Noelle Hagen, Albert Lea Economic Development Agency assistant executive director.
Not only does it help the sellers, but also the customers.
“We also hear from the community that ‘I went to businesses I’ve never been in before and realized we have a lot to offer here in Albert Lea that we didn’t know about,'” said Hagen.
Businesses in Austin also participated in Small Business Saturday, such as Sweet Reads on Main Street, which hosted a special author event for the occasion.
“I will definitely support our local talent, local talent of authors,” said Sweet Reads owner Lisa Deyo.
However, she has found that running a small business takes a lot of effort.
“You know it takes a lot of time and heart and commitment and I do have a full time job,” Deyo said. “I had no idea just how much a small business person does on their own.”
But her staff and neighboring businesses help a lot.
“We work together as a community and I learn from them,” said Deyo. “It’s so important to keep our money in town and for me to shop at my neighbors.”
In Spring Valley, Four Daughters Winery allowed local artisans to sell their products in their store on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday.
“I think they’re very excited to showcase here. We don’t charge them anything,” said Four Daughters Owner Vicky Vogt. “We want them to be here and we to support them. That’s something we do for the community.”
The Albert Lea passport initiative continues through December 12th. Passports are still available to pick up, find out more here.