Shoppers take advantage of downtown shops on Small Business Saturday

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BENNINGTON — The holiday deals are not over yet. If the overwhelming Black Friday deals weren't up to par with stores opening Thanksgiving night, consumers waited until Saturday to shop local on Bennington's "Our Hometown Holiday," or Small Business Saturday.

Two young girls employed at Bringing You Vermont (514 Main St.) greeted customers by asking them if it was their first time visiting the store.

"Downtown has a lot to offer," store owner Ryan Hassett said. "It's just a challenge getting the word out. Several people came in today who didn't even know we existed."

A majority of the items for sale at Bringing You Vermont are made in Vermont with Bennington County in mind first, Hassett said. All cafe items are made from scratch and priced reasonably.

"We wanted to make the food affordable for people who do go out to lunch regularly," he said. "You get a full meal for under $10." The cafe is known for its ham pies, which cost $5.95, and an extra dollar for a side salad.

Bringing You Vermont is celebrating its third year with the Small Business Saturday initiative. Some of its deals included $5 off a purchase of $25 or more, $10 off a purchase of $50 or more and $20 off a purchase of $100 or more.

"It really helps spread awareness of the downtown businesses. People don't usually shop downtown," he said.

Twitter users everywhere took to the hashtags #SmallBizSat and #ShopSmall to promote awareness of the overlooked shopping holiday. Forbes magazine even tweeted that it was the anti-Black Friday, while others preached about how supporting small businesses should happen every day.

Early afternoon, the Bennington Community Theater acted out "The Polar Express" story next to the Green Mountain Christian Center Church, despite on-and-off rainfall. Two actors narrated the story while others performed a dialogue-free visual performance.

Nancy Woltman, owner of Panache (530 Main St.), believes that even though shoppers prefer big box stores on Black Friday, they choose to purchase good peacefully on Saturday.

"We were really busy this morning," she said. "I think we're on key and right where we should be."

Panache is the only shop with women's clothing downtown, but it also offers a children's section, Yankee Candles and a variety of jewelry. There's also the advantage of free gift-wrapping.

The shop's deals ranged from 25 to 75 percent off of women's clothing.

"What you find here, you couldn't anywhere else," Woltman happily exclaimed.

Call your favorite shop to see what sales they'll continue throughout the holiday season.

Makayla-Courtney McGeeney can be contacted at (802)-447-7567, ext. 118.


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