Shoppers crowd Franklin for Small Business Saturday – Daily Journal

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McAleen Schmidt, left, of Morgantown, and Jennifer Rhorer of Franklin pose for a photo before the Franklin Chamber of Commerce’s kickoff open house here at Small Business Saturday. Schmidt and Rayer were the first two guys in line for goody bags from the dugout. Noah Crenshaw | Daily Journal

As expected in downtown Franklin, the line stretched more than half a block.

What was the occasion? A chance to win shopper incentives like coupons and other Small Business Saturday deals.

It did nothing to deter the 100-plus crowd who waited in line for several hours before the cold weather arrived on Saturday morning. Franklin Chamber of Commerce’s 11th Annual Kick Off Open House at the chamber’s downtown office. Small Business Saturday is a market holiday created by American Express in 2010 as a boost to small businesses during the economic downturn. It is now a respected tradition that encourages shopping on this day and throughout the year.

At 10:00 a.m., 15 minutes before the open stage began, the waiting line met with cheers and Christmas cheer as visitors from the North Pole arrived – Santa and Mrs. Claus. People waved and greeted the duo as they made their way to the line.

Little children waiting in line with their families shouted with joy. A young girl yelled “Santa” in a car driving down Jefferson Street.

Claus’ appearance was new to this year’s open house, said Rosie Chambers, executive director of the chamber of commerce. But many parts of the experience are the same, including tote bags filled with coupons, store information, money from local businesses and chamber cash, coupons for purchases at participating small businesses.

You have received most of the unique “genuine Franklin” toy bags online. Envelopes filled with chamber cash are handed out by Santa to the 100 adults who pass through the chamber doors.

A total of $1,500 was held in chamber cash, with envelopes ranging from $10 to $100 to be used by 19 participating businesses. People come back year after year for a chance to win the incentive, Chambers said earlier.

Shoppers scramble to find the first spot online in an attempt to maximize their chances of getting envelopes with lots of cash.

McAleen Schmidt of Morgantown and Jennifer Reyer of Franklin were first in line, arriving at 8:15 p.m.

Schmidt didn’t expect them to be the first in line.

“I expected at least 25 people to be here by 8:15,” Schmidt said.

“I didn’t know what to expect, so that’s why I came early,” added Rhorer.

Franklin residents Linda and Robbie Morse have been coming to the section’s Small Business Saturday open house since it started 11 years ago. They also have a unique achievement under their belt. They are the only ones who have received the envelope twice in Chamber Cash for $100. They tried again a third time, although it is not known who finally got the envelope for $100.

The Morse’s return each year to support small businesses, and want to see the community’s businesses thrive, he said.

“This is one way we can do it, and support Small Business Saturday,” said Robbie Morse.

Morse had planned to stop at Wild Goose Bookshop and Toddly’s Toys after they stopped in the alley, but they came across other stores and “went around,” Linda Morse said.

Schmidt was eager to wander the downtown shops, planning to stop at David’s Artisan Candles in the middle. Rhorer said she planned to shop at Farm Girl Mercantile.

Schmidt and Rohrer often shop in the area, with Schmidt saying she’s a big fan. She says that contributing to society is important to her.

Shopping local is also a way to support your neighbors, Rohrer said.

“I live here so I know all the people and stuff. I want to help them as much as I can,” Schmidt said.

Linda Morse echoed a similar sentiment, saying that supporting small businesses — and your neighbors — is essential to building community.

“Franklin is a great community,” she said. “We talk to each other, which you don’t get that much in big cities. So we can build that community. We know each other. We protect each other.

She said she encourages people to come out, support and shop at small businesses throughout the year.

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