With the start of the holiday shopping season this weekend, small businesses in the area are doing everything they can to boost visibility and remind customers about the benefits of shopping local.
Jubilee, a boutique on 19th Street in the Heights, has been there for 25 years. Owner Kristal Kirksey attributes the store’s longevity to constant promotion, and it is decorated to the nines for Christmas.
Kirksey rents a storage unit for all the merchandise that will be available at Jubilee, which recently unloaded three pallets of freight. She wants customers to find things they can’t get anywhere else.
“We go nuts for Christmas,” Kirksey said.
Coryne Rich, who does marketing and event planning for 19th Street, has partnered with American Express to promote Jubilee and all the other 19th Street businesses for Small Business Saturday on Nov. 30. The event was created in 2010 as a way to help get more customers through the doors of small businesses, and it has grown in recognition and popularity in the years since.
A 2019 Shop Small Consumer Impact Survey said that when consumers are aware that 67 cents of each dollar spent at a small business stay in their local community, 75 percent of shoppers said it inspires them to make shopping small an ongoing commitment.
“Shopping local helps to put money back in the community,” said Susan Tate, owner of Darlene’s Flower and Gift Shop at 10570 Northwest Fwy.
The merchants on 19th are doing various in-store promotions and special events for customers. Jubilee got a vintage bar and will be offering wine and soft drinks and Christmas punch in addition to big in-store sales.
“Our little hood is really changing,” Kirksey said. “It’s getting a lot harder because people just want to shop online. We work so hard. We do all the different seasons, like rodeo, and special occasions (like the) Astros.”
A huge Saturday promotion will be offered at Erica DelGardo Jewelry Designs, 329 W. 19th St. For 50 minutes, 50 percent of store items will be on sale, with some exceptions, like their diamonds.
“We just posted the times – 2-2:50 on Saturday,” DelGardo said.
DelGardo is someone else who has been on 19th Street for a long time.
“We’ve been here 12 years and are always trying to do something different,” she said. “We try to keep up with how the neighborhood is changing. It’s going younger so we keep up with trends.”
A lot of the jewelry store’s work is custom, like making a birthday pendant out of an Italian tile that a husband and wife found on their vacation.
“We do a lot of engagement rings and anniversary gifts,” DelGardo said. “We have a new watch collection that’s doing really well.”
It’s the small-town feel that DelGardo strives to maintain in her store.
“We want to keep the mom and pop (vibe),” she said.
Small business boutique and specialty store owners in other areas are also pulling out all the stops for the shopping season.
Tate of Darlene’s said she cannot compete with deep discounts like the big box stores have. But Darlene’s offers a 20 percent store-wide discount.
“We have a wonderful selection of Mud Pie and a nice selection of seasonal as well as everyday clothing in sizes small through 3X,” Tate said. “We strive to have unique and different gifts that you do not find in large department stores.”
As a small business owner, Tate said she offers more personalized service and attention to detail.
“The owners are in the store and are ready to help you,” she said.
Claudia Avila runs Initial Attic Monogrammed Gifts out of her home and says she is extending her regular hours to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays starting Dec. 3 to ensure that customers can get their items turned in to be personalized before the Christmas orders cutoff on Dec 12. See store hours at Initialattic.com.
“We have plenty of single initial items here at the shop and more deliveries on their way from popular brands such as Mud Pie and The Royal Standard, with plenty of jewelry finds, too,” Avila said.
The merchants at Revive’s development at 34th Street and Ella Boulevard have put together a bingo card with deals at each shop there and a raffle prize for those who shop at three in a row.
“Emily (Moore) and I have wanted to do our own BINGO/shopping card since the beginning,” said Lisa Buss, co-owner of Branché. “This became an opportunity to connect our Revive family/women-owned businesses, but we really hope to connect all of our growing community businesses in the future. Hopefully BINGO will grow neighborhood-wide.”
DelGardo, who employs three local residents, hopes people from area neighborhoods do all their holiday shopping locally.
“It allows us to invest in our community,” she said. “We can also source things locally for (what we create). You support your own community when you support small business owners.”