Local businesses utilizing W.Va. SBDC’s Shop Small in July Campaign prepare for busiest time of the year

MORGANTOWN — A couple of area businesses found success participating in  West Virginia Small Business Development Center’s (WV SBDC) Shop Small in July Campaign, and are  getting ready for their busiest time of year.

Jillian Kelly, owner of Retro-tique said it was hard to tell if business picked up due to the campaign at her funky store-for-all given her inventory just moved across Walnut Street.

But, since WVU students have flooded Morgantown she’s seen people stopping by  more frequently.

The  store now occupies  an old  theater with slanted floors, but allows for ample space. With this new  space, new opportunities arise as Morgantown heads into a new school year and the holidays  approach.

Kelly has a vision for  her new space. Set up is still taking place, but she said it’s going to be “crazy” as she strives to keep things bright and catchy.

Kelly has had her store for four years now, and believes that any small business campaign is important for success.

“Small businesses need every bit of help they can get,” she said.

She said owning a small business is not about making money, it’s about doing what you love. Being a business owner is a 24/7 job, which is why things like online campaigns are imperative.

Another big motivator for people to shop small downtown during the Shop Small promotion was free parking, which Kelly said people really loved.

Shannon Dowling, owner of River Fair Trade, said she saw a big influx of people coming by in the evening and more people coming by in general.

“A lot of what I noticed, which surprised me, is the amount of tourists who were in town this summer,” said Dowling.

Dowling, who has owned River Fair Trade for two years now, said surprisingly students are not her main customers. With night life being a main player for students, Dowling said it can be a challenge to let them know what’s available downtown.

She said Small Business Saturday is by far the best day of the year, which she credits to the local community and its appreciation for local business.

She said Small Business Saturday makes people really think about where they’re spending their dollars instead of going to a big chain. On one of the biggest shopping days of the year, they choose to shop local.

Shop Small in July, Dowling said,  definitely helps.

“It gives people that choice, let’s them think about it and where their dollars are going,” she said.

Kelly sees her big influx of business in November and December. Dowling said she can start making holiday orders in March.

Now is the time for Kelly to start planning for the holidays, making sure she’s carrying the things people want.

People often buy records as gifts, but many times people will be gifted a record player. Kelly said after Christmas, people will come and buy a stack of records. She tries to keep bargain records, alongside new ones, well stocked.

Dowling said most retailers live for the fourth quarter. For her, especially for Christmastime, she brings in new lines but makes sure they’re things her customers will be interested in.

What’s really important to these two small business owners is the love they feel from all the businesses owners around them and the community.

“We’re able to share this space with people and do so much more, so I’m really hoping to do more for the community and boost them up,” said Kelly.

And if one store doesn’t have what you’re looking for, Dowling or Kelly are  happy to send you in the right direction.

“I would love to encourage more small businesses to open downtown, because the more the merrier,” said Dowling.

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