Small Business Saturday

Shops like Potpourri in Dubuque are embracing Small Business Saturday. 

You have to mind your elbows in Julie Clark's shop. 

Every single inch of every conceivable surface in the Bluff Street business is piled high with tokens of holiday cheer. Smiling snowmen and elves sit next to countless Christmas trees, colorful wreathes and unique holiday ornaments. 

At tiny Potpourri, located just off Cable Car Square, holidays are big business. And it's an experience you just can't find at major chain retailers, Clark said. 

"I think everybody knows somebody who owns or works at a small business that's local," said Clark. "So many big stores are closing. We need to keep small ones, local ones, just to keep things rolling." 

Today marks the 10th Small Business Saturday, a wholesome alternative to the frenzy of consumerism that is Black Friday.

While the day after Thanksgiving is an opportunity to fight for blockbuster deals, Saturday is a chance to get to know, love and support the locally owned shops that are part of the backbone of municipal economies. 

"It's very Wall Street versus Main Street," said Rylynn McQuillen, owner of Fig Leaf, also located near Cable Car Square. "What happens on Fridays is everybody forgets about the local store. Everybody's got to get the flat-screen TV and the laptop." 

Store owners like McQuillen and Clark are using today's spotlight to show off what they have to offer. There are few "door-buster" deals to be had on Small Business Saturday, but that's not the point, McQuillen said. 

Rather, the event encourages residents to come into shops they might have driven by countless times and enjoy a cookie or a cup of hot chocolate as they browse unique local wares. 

"We get to know you on a more personal level," McQuillen said. "We do Small Business Saturday so that you get the love and attention that you should get all year long." 

Joann Schmitt was shopping at Potpourri earlier today. She discovered the little store some time ago, and has been a regular ever since. 

While big box retailers serve a purpose, it's always good to get out and support local businesses whenever possible, Schmitt said. 

"We found this store and we love it," she said. "Not just this store, but there are some other stores we hit regularly. This store has tons of unique little things that you can’t find anywhere else."

Clark said Small Business Saturday ultimately is about creating customers who don't need a special excuse to patronize local shops. 

"It does bring new people down who maybe don't shop small year-round," she said. "This is to kind of get people thinking about shopping small and supporting small businesses." 

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