It’s been nearly 40 years since downtown Owensboro was the retail hub of the region.
But Saturday, with 10 or more downtown stores among the 46 offering Shop Owensboro Saturday sales, downtown was bustling with shoppers — including 32 from one family.
In the four years that the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce has been promoting what’s also known as Small Business Saturday, the number of stores and the number of shoppers on the Saturday after Thanksgiving has continued to grow.
“Last year was our best year ever,” said Debi Ford, owner of Simply Chic Home Accents, which has participated all four years. “But we’re twice as busy this year as we were last.”
She had already rung up 90 sales by 12:30 p.m and estimated that more than 300 people had already visited the store at 101 W. Third St.
“We couldn’t even get out from behind the counter from 9:30 (a.m.) to noon,” Ford said. “I thought it was around 4 p.m. But it was only 12.”
She said, “The chamber (of commerce) has done such a good job of promoting this.”
Simply Chic was so busy it was hard to get through the crowd.
And it was the same next door at Single Thread Boutique
Sara Kamman and her staff were almost — but not quite — swamped.
“It’s been very busy,” she said. “But it’s been fun.”
Jenna Hunt, who was ringing up sales behind the counter, said, “It’s been crazy. We’re usually busy on Saturdays, but not like this.”
Susan Clark of Owensboro was looking at clothes in the store.
“Every store I’ve been in has been packed,” she said. “And every store has sales. I’m running into people I haven’t seen in years.”
Over at Lil Bit Sassy, 125 W. Second St., owner Lisa Johnson-Miles said, “It’s been fabulous. It’s bigger than my grand opening.”
The store was pushing 100 sales by noon, and she estimated that 250 people or more shoppers had already been in the store.
Lauren Morrison and her daughter, Anna Lucy, 2, were among the shoppers.
Morrison said it was the first time she had shopped on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
“I’m finding all kinds of things for us and for gifts,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun.”
At The Sturdy Hinge, “a curvy and maternity lifestyle boutique” across Daviess Street from the International Bluegrass Music Museum, owner Natalie Denton said the event was helping the store get its name out.
“We just opened last Saturday,” she said. “We’re getting a lot of foot traffic — and a lot of name recognition — today.”
The Small Business Administration says that on Small Business Saturday last year, “more than 95 million Americans spent a combined $16.2 billion at independent neighborhood retailers and restaurants — often purchasing locally sourced and unique handmade gifts.”
Candance Castlen Brake, president of the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce, said Saturday was the biggest day the event has had in Owensboro.
Independence Bank was giving out 500 shopping bags at two locations, she said.
One location ran out within 14 minutes, Brake said.
And the other was out not long after that.
“It’s an amazing day,” Brake said. “There is so much energy in the air. People from out of town are shopping with family members and making it a tradition. It’s a movement.”
By Keith Lawrence Messenger-Inquirer