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Push on to promote shopping local




Overshadowed by Thanksgiving Day shopping, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, local businesses are reasserting themselves in time for the holiday season.

The fourth annual Small Business Saturday is this weekend. The initiative, led by American Express, encourages consumers to "shop small."

Megan Colson, executive director for Downtown Hays Development Corp., said small businesses define the area's commercial landscape.

"We're a community that thrives off those entrepreneurs who are going to continue to grow," Colson said. "Downtown Hays is no different. It's filled with an array of all different types of businesses and restaurants that are always expanding and new things are happening."

Several businesses approached DHDC about adopting Small Business Saturday, and there already are plans to build on the schedule next November.

"Really, what it is, is just kind of spreading awareness of the importance of shopping local, you know, supporting those businesses in your community who support the area where you live, work and play," she said.

An event at 5:30 p.m. today at Union Pacific Park, 10th and Main, launches the commercial holiday. There is a Christmas lighting ceremony, live music, dancers and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Nine downtown businesses will partake in a program Saturday that benefits Hays Area Children's Center. Customers can pay $5 to receive a cookie box and collect homemade cookies at participating businesses they patronize.

Sandy Keller and her husband, Norman, co-manage C.S. Post & Co., 117 W. 11th. The store sells unique decor, and Norman designs flower arrangements.

"I think it's more about just the awareness of that there's other stores other than the big box stores," Sandy said.

Lisa Jones, Wichita, said she heard about the store and wanted to shop there on her way to Fort Collins, Colo. Shopping at a local establishment is a more meaningful experience.

"It has more character and more creativity," Jones said. "When you shop here, you know it's someone's heart and soul."

Sarah Cearley owns the baby and maternity fashion store Bella Luna Boutique, 1013 Main, and the adjacent Simply Charmed, a women's accessories store. The mom-and-pop stores downtown contribute to the local economy, she said.

"We have the customer service aspect. We appreciate every customer that comes in, and we appreciate they're supporting the business because we employ local employees," Cearley said. "All of our money, we try to keep it in the community."