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A Mixed Bag: How Local Retailers Fared on Black Friday & Small Business Saturday

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Merchants in Downtown Stuart discuss how Black Friday and Small Business Saturday went in light of the pandemic.

Last weekend was Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, so we checked in with several of the merchants in Downtown Stuart so see how it went in the shadow of the pandemic.

BM: It’s just interesting how it’s kind of a mixed bag.

This is Bill Moore.

BM: I’m the owner of Kilwin’s Chocolates and Ice Cream in Downtown Stuart, and also the president of Stuart Downtown Business Association. So, yea, it does seem out retailers had a pretty good weekend which is great news.

His store did not see large numbers.

BM: Our average ticket is like $13. So, in order for us to generate numbers, we have to have tons of people through the front door. So, we’re not getting the numbers like we did last year.

Still, he’s optimistic.

BM: It looks like we are all going to survive this and get to the other side of it. If you maintain the CDC Guidelines, you can manage pretty good. If you wear the mask, maintain the distance, wear the mask – it really works. We’ve given out in our store over 2000 masks.

Next, we spoke to Ron Hart of Earth Tones.

RH: Hola! I’m the anomaly of Downtown Stuart because my store on purpose looks polar opposite of the other 47 stores downtown. It’s a retro peace, love, surfer, hippie, Buddha, yoga, gifts for musicians, party lifestyle store.

He also brings live music to Downtown regularly.

RH: I do. I’m the Music Man downtown. Yes ma’am.

We asked him how the weekend went.

RH: The weekend was amazingly off the chart and a giant increase from last year’s Black Friday/Small Business Saturday. I don’t want to say this too loud but I’m gonna go ahead and whisper it: I am actually up for the year!

He credits that to re-vamping the 4000 square foot store during the initial lockdown.

RH: I did a tailspin into deep and dark depression. I was really worried when the lockdown happened about what was going to happen to downtown and what was going to happen to my store and what was going to happen to my employees. And then I decided I was going to entirely re-create Earth Tones.

He worked for 26 days straight.

RH: I wasn’t going to let the darn pandemic beat me. I decided I was going to fight back. I think that’s the moral to the story.

Mark and JoAnn Carbone own the craft beer and wine lounge, Vine & Barley, Their son Eric manages the bar. Here’s Mark:

MC: This weekend was actually a little bit slow for us, only because there was a Mike Tyson fight Saturday night and we’re not a sports bar. So we lost a lot of customers Saturday night.

They, too, used the shutdown time constructively, to deep clean and paint. They were able to re-open in July.

MC: Things weren’t so good over the summer. But little by little things got better as we opened up. Each week does get a little bit better. We are still down where we were last year at this time. We are hoping for good things heading into the season.

Finally, we spoke to Patty O’Connell.

PO: I have Gumbo Limbo Coastal Gifts, and I have a children’s store – Gumbo Limbo Coastal Kids. Well, the weekend was good. Thank goodness. We had a lot of people come down. You know, we’re sandwiched in between all these major online shopping holidays so for those of us in small retail, we just have to keep pushing to remind people that we’re here. We feel like there is a lot of opportunity for small retail for the people who like to go out, and to touch and feel things and looks at things and hand pick them, that now small retail is the place to do that. So we’ll see.

Learn more about these retailers here:

https://www.kilwins.com/stores/kilwins-stuart

https://www.releaseyourinnerhippie.com/earthtones-home

https://www.vineandbarleystuart.com/

https://gumbolimbogifts.com/