When I woke up on the Saturday morning after Thanksgiving, I felt anticipation for what the day would bring. Small Business Saturday is my favorite shopping day of the year. Dean and I sit out on Black Friday, preferring to do our holiday shopping at locally owned small businesses on the day after.
To prepare for an afternoon of strolling up and down Broad Street, we left early to get some lunch, hoping that we could nab a good parking spot. Luckily, we found one on 11th Street right next to Mellow Mushroom, which was our destination. By the time we got out of the car and rounded the corner we found a line of folks standing in front of the restaurant. Once the doors opened, I turned around and noticed that the line behind us had grown so long that it wrapped around the corner.
Our table facing Broad Street gave us a view of the foot traffic, which was fairly heavy. Throngs of people passed by, many of them carrying their free “I Love Augusta “ totes that Augusta & Co. gave out to the first 200 people. As soon as we finished our lunch, we hightailed it down to Augusta & Co. to see if we could snag a bag. Of course, by then we were too late. They’d given out the last bag at 11:30.
That was o.k. We checked out the current art show in the gallery and lo and behold we ran into local art legend Porkchop. He gave us each a hug and a new snowflake HAPPY button. Seeing Porkchop made my day.
Browsing around I found a James Brown T-shirt for myself. When I bought it, I received my first button of the crawl. Each of the participating stores handed out a little button with purchase. In addition to the buttons, customers received a raffle form with the grand prize being a basket filled to the brim with goodies from participating businesses. I filled out the first of my raffle sheets. Bag in hand I headed out to Art on Broad.
Just outside the store, we ran into more friends and got more hugs. It was a bit like old home week. You never know whom you’re going to run into when you’re cruising Broad Street. Inside Art on Broad, we found the place buzzing with customers. I had come specifically for one item, the 2022 HAPPY ornament. Luckily, there were several in a basket on the counter. We bought our ornament, filled out another raffle form and received another button. The little store buttons I collected made me want to shop more, so to the Book Tavern we went.
Like the other stores we’d visited, the bookstore was packed with shoppers. I found a book to gift a friend, paid for my purchase, filled out the raffle form, received another button and continued the crawl.
By this time, quite a bit of people walked downtown. Parking was getting scarce. It couldn’t have been more beautiful or more perfect for a day downtown. The sun shone bright, the blue sky was gorgeous, and the temperature was mild.
The next store on our list to visit was Grantski Records. The last time we’d been to Grantski we had attended a concert there, which was great fun. I’d remembered that the CD wall held some interesting titles, so we went to the back and browsed. Found some jazz records and a CD by a favorite jazz artist. Paid for our purchase, filled out a raffle ticket, received my button.
This button collecting became addictive.
Field Botanicals, located next to Farmhaus Burgers on 12th Street, was my next stop. I had never been to this store and figured it was the perfect day to stop in and see what it was all about. The scents, the vibe, the lovely products created a veritable feast. I found a cosmetic item I had to have, met the lovely owner Jen, and received yet another button and raffle form at the register.
A quick stop in at Westobou and the Morris Museum of Art to see the creative works of local and regional artists was the perfect way to end a day celebrating small businesses. Speaking of Westobou, Seeds is up at the gallery through December. If you like art, stop in to see the show. Seeing so many people downtown celebrating small local business warmed my heart. It felt so good to support many of the shops that participated in this year’s crawl. I will be down there again soon. If you haven’t been downtown in a while, I highly recommend visiting the locally owned shops and restaurants on and off Broad Street. There is something for everyone in downtown Augusta.
Columnist Francie Klopotic can be found about the town attending concerts, arts exhibitions and almost any event highlighting Augusta’s cultural offerings.