Small Business Saturday draws crowd to West Reading

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Fleet Feet in West Reading was packed Saturday morning, one of several businesses in the community’s downtown area that gathered for Small Business Saturday.

Jason Corby, general manager of the sneaker and athletic apparel store, attributed the large turnout in part to the sales West Reading businesses advertised and promoted for the weekend.

More than that, though, Corby thinks consumers are growing aware of the benefits of supporting small, locally-owned businesses, and come to West Reading to kick off the holiday shopping season.

“When you spend money here, you’re helping people in your neighborhood,” he said.

Jason Corby, general manager of Fleet Feet in the 700 block of Penn Avenue in West Reading, oversees their biggest sales day on Small Business Saturdays. (Bill Uhrich – The Eagle)

Tina Schenk, president of the Love Team of West Reading, which works to grow the local business community, said supporting locally owned businesses has other benefits.

Not only is the money spent in those businesses a drain on the local economy, but most small business owners are passionate and knowledgeable about what they do, she said. They employ staff who are educated in what they sell and are comfortable making customers happy, she said.

“It’s more than just buying something there. It’s an experience,” she says.

Fleet Feet, for example, has been ranked in the top 50 of 900 running stores across the country for two years running, Corby said. The store uses high-tech equipment and the expertise of its employees to properly cater to customers, many of whom are running fans themselves, he said.

Many West Reading businesses advertised their weekend specials through social media, email and newsletters, which helped attract shoppers.

Shoppers visit 600 Penn Avenue West in Reading for Small Business Saturday.  (Bill Uhrich - Eagle Eagle)
Shoppers visit 600 Penn Avenue West in Reading for Small Business Saturday. (Bill Uhrich – The Eagle)

Among them are Samantha Boone of Spring City and her aunt, Sandy Luckenbill of Bowers, who hit the downtown market every Saturday after Thanksgiving and have visited Cooktown and Bethlehem in recent years.

They chose West Reading this year, and said they were happy to find something they couldn’t find anywhere else, Boone said.

Sandy Luckenbill of Bowers and her niece, Samantha Bunn, enjoy a sunny morning in the 700 block of Penn Avenue for a small business in West Reading.  (Bill Uhrich - Eagle Eagle)
Sandy Luckenbill of Bowers and her niece, Samantha Bunn, enjoy a sunny morning in the 700 block of Penn Avenue for a small business in West Reading. (Bill Uhrich – The Eagle)

The two said that buying things in person beats the online shopping experience, which is impersonal. “It’s more fun to go outside and go to the stores,” he said.

“And I love being able to give back to the local community and see where the money goes,” Booney said.

Consignment store Lucky Phil’s was filled with shoppers all day Friday and was back on track Saturday, owner Diana Maldonado said.

In the year She moved the business from Douglasville to West Reading in 2020, and the pandemic has severely limited sales, she said.

But things have been picking up lately, and she’s hopeful the small business will do well during a profitable holiday season Saturday.

“Things are better now,” she said. “Thank God for that.”

Diana Maldonado, owner of Lucky Finds in the 700 block of Penn Avenue, looks forward to the biggest day of the year at Small Business Saturday in West Reading.  (Bill Uhrich - Eagle Eagle)
Diana Maldonado, owner of Lucky Finds in the 700 block of Penn Avenue, is looking forward to her biggest day of the year in small business Saturday in West Reading.

American Express Small Business Saturday

The Saturday crowd in West Reading was impressive, Schenck said, and brought the downtown close to the small business Saturday presence it had before the pandemic.

Home decor and interior design store Sailor House is expected to draw 500 to 700 customers on Saturday, which owner Jennifer Inners said is usually the busiest day of the year.

Jennifer Iners, owner of Saylor House at 605 Penn Ave., a small business in West Reading, expects more than 700 shoppers to visit her store Saturday.  (Bill Uhrich - Eagle Eagle)
Jennifer Inners, owner of Saylor House at 605 Penn Ave., expects more than 700 shoppers to visit her store during the West Reading Small Business Saturday. (Bill Uhrich – The Eagle)

She said people seem to be increasingly realizing that small businesses are important to their communities.

Her shop, for example, buys and sells items from local artists.

“When you shop here, you’re helping local families,” she said.

Lori Gorama of Spring Township was among the shoppers in West Reading on Saturday and said big-box stores were fans of Black Friday.

“There were so many people,” she said.

But for at least the past five years, she and her friend Ashlyn Caldaway have shopped downtown West Reading every year on Small Business Saturday, and they’ve had a great time doing it, she said.

On Saturday, they grabbed coffee at a downtown cafe, bought Christmas gifts for others, bought some for themselves, enjoyed the fall weather, and felt good about supporting local businesses, he said.

“It’s a beautiful day,” said Caldaway.



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