Small Business Saturday reminds Louisville to shop local as COVID-19 struggles endure

Revelry Boutique and Gallery on East Market Street has been in business for 10 years, but owner Mo McKnight Howe said the future of her local shop is always uncertain.

The pandemic has made 2020 a challenging year for Howe and other small business owners around Louisville, but many have adapted to the circumstances to keep their stores open. Just before noon on Small Business Saturday, several shoppers were filtering in and out of Revelry, but Howe said most of the sales have been through the store’s website.

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“It’s been the most trying time ever to be a small business owner,” Howe said from behind the counter of her Nulu boutique featuring the work of over 100 regional artists. “Every day, it’s like, should I close, should I just close. I mean, it’s been really hard.”

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Despite the challenges, Revelry has remained open, using curbside pickup and shipping through its online store. For Small Business Saturday, an event created in 2010 by American Express to bring more holiday shopping to small businesses, the store offered a discount and a free face mask with orders over $50. Starting on Cyber Monday, Howe is offering free delivery to customers within a 15-mile radius of Revelry.



a group of people walking down the street: Shoppers make their way across East Market Street with bags full of new purchases during the Small Business Saturday event in NuLu. Nov. 28, 2020.


© Jeff Faughender/Courier Journal
Shoppers make their way across East Market Street with bags full of new purchases during the Small Business Saturday event in NuLu. Nov. 28, 2020.

Down the street, Six Sisters Boutique has been offering private parties to allow in-person shopping without risk of close contact with strangers. Owner Katie Meinhart said “it’s been tough” staying open during the pandemic, with Small Business Saturday starting off slower than it has in past years.

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“But we’re blessed with Nulu and it being a shop small community, so people have been really supportive,” Meinhart said. “But, you know, it’s 2020.”

Louisville mom Holly Ford and daughter Isabelle were taking advantage of the various Small Business Saturday deals in the East Market District, both donning masks as they shopped at Buff City Soap to get gifts for teachers. Ford, a small business owner herself, said she participates in Small Business Saturday every year to support local shops.

“I feel like this year more than any year is so important because, I mean, these are the people that need to be in business,” said Ford, who’s owned Louisville Blinds and Drapery for more than 20 years. “It’s just personal when you own a business.”

Across town in Lyles Mall, Better Days Records owner Ben Jones said the only time the pandemic really hurt his music store was over the summer when Gov. Andy Beshear ordered all non-essential retailers to close to in-person traffic.

“The best part is that music is essential to us in the Black community – a big part of staying home and just keeping sane,” Jones said. “Music is a good therapy.”

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a man holding a laptop: Ben Jones, owner of Better Days Records at 2600 W. Broadway, stocks his record shelves with used R&B/Soul CDs during a busy Saturday afternoon. As part of Small Business Saturday, Jones was offering a discounted price on the new book by former President Barak Obama. Nov. 28, 2020.


© Jeff Faughender/Courier Journal
Ben Jones, owner of Better Days Records at 2600 W. Broadway, stocks his record shelves with used R&B/Soul CDs during a busy Saturday afternoon. As part of Small Business Saturday, Jones was offering a discounted price on the new book by former President Barak Obama. Nov. 28, 2020.

Thanks to his loyal customer base and willingness to adapt to the changing circumstances of the pandemic, Jones said he never worried he would have to shut down for good.

“We knew that people were going to need music, so we left our phone lines open,” said Jones, who has owned the West End record store for more than 40 years.

Customers took advantage of curbside pickup, and though traffic slowed some, Jones’ store has consistently served the community as the only new and used record store in the area. In the East End, Better Days Records opened its new store at 921 Barret Ave. on Friday, moving from its previous spot on Bardstown Road.  

For each of Louisville’s small business owners, Small Business Saturday is a way to remind customers that money spent locally will go right back into their communities.

“When shopping Black local, they truly know that most or all the money stays in the community, from what we donate to what we support, you know, from the churches to the other businesses in the community,” Jones said.

Howe said she thinks small businesses provide “a level of depth” to communities. And at Revelry, every purchase helps support artists in the region.

“You know when you spend money at a small business, especially one that supports local artists, 100{a1a1c2aadef71e97d3d8dc505175168462e21e65098a9638786aefb22bafcd71} of your money is going back into the local economy, which is super important,” Howe said. “That’s why I think it’s important  because, you know, we may not be here next year. This is a really important time.”

Reach Emma Austin at [email protected] or on Twitter at @emmacaustin.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Small Business Saturday reminds Louisville to shop local as COVID-19 struggles endure

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