Small stores, bigger results

Shop Owensboro grows year after year

More than 50 small, local businesses in Owensboro opened their doors on Saturday to an onslaught of customers that resembled something more like a Black Friday shopping extravaganza.

Organizers of the fifth annual Shop Owensboro — a local adaptation of Small Business Saturday — say growing support for the all-day event may have more to do with loyalty and love for the community than new merchandise and good deals.

“We’re noticing a synergy within the community like never before,” said Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Candance Brake. “I think people are understanding that money spent in Owensboro turns over at least three times. Shopping locally is an investment in your community.”

The chamber’s Shop Owensboro event was powered this year by Independence Bank. Early morning shoppers crowded to one of its two locations on Frederica Street or Kentucky 54 for 500 free shopping bags, stuffed full of coupons and other special offers. Those bags became scarce in under 10 minutes, witnesses said.

Independence Bank Vice President Nick Oller characterized the chamber partnership as a perfect way to give back to the community and support local businesses.

“Excitement for Shop Owensboro seems to grow every day,” he said. “It’s amazing.”

Owensboro resident Ashley Hicks said she regularly participates. As she browsed for gifts in Bryon & Barclay Fine Goods & Apparel Saturday with children Ella Grace, 6, and Paxton, 4, she said local shopping is an important part of her family dynamic.

“I think it’s important to keep your money where you live and shop local,” she said. “We have a lot of friends who own small businesses around town, so it’s great to get out and see them.”

Lil Bit Sassy Children’s Boutique owner Lisa Aul said it seemed as though shoppers out and about Saturday were all friendly faces.

“It’s a lot of my girlfriends out for an all-day shopping trip,” she laughed. “But we’ve had people coming in from Evansville and Henderson, too.

Rachel Basham, of Owensboro, and DJ Jacobs, of New Concord, Ohio, were in her shop looking for newborn baby clothes. They said they were surprised by the great selections and excited about the way Owensboro was supporting its local businesses.

A group of friends in town for the Thanksgiving holiday — many of them from out of town — couldn’t agree more.

Jessica Coomes, an Owensboro native who lives in Lexington now, said Shop Owensboro reminded her of something out of the big city.

“It’s good to boost your local businesses this way,” she said. “This didn’t seem to be nearly as big a few years ago, but it’s growing, and I like to see that.”

By Austin Ramsey Messenger-Inquirer