KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Thousands around the metro celebrated Small Business Saturday by supporting local vendors and businesses at the start of the holiday season.
From the annual Merry Market at City Market to family-owned businesses in the suburbs, organizers and business owners across the metro say investing back into the community supports the livelihood of beloved neighbors.
Bridget Patton, owner of Photaj, says after the COVID-19 pandemic threw her a curveball, local events supporting small businesses helped her survive the lockdown.
“Instead of using that time to be creative, I just kind of went into this full panic mode,” Patton said. “Like honestly, without stuff like this, I wouldn’t be able to do this full time.”
For artists like her, having a platform with foot traffic is crucial.
“When you buy something of mine, you are helping me pay my rent, you’re helping me feed my cat, which is a lot,” Patton said.
Owner of Crown & Heart Sara Kharatyan says this was the silver lining during an otherwise difficult pandemic. The nationwide push to shop locally boosted her business.
“The in-person events make up about half of all my sales,” Kharatyan said. “I would say probably 40 to 50 percent.”
Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas believes it is another way for Kansas Citians to show up for one another.
“I think this is a way to say that as we go to the end of 2021 and look at 2022, we’ll have brighter days like this one ahead,” Lucas said.
For Katie Mabry Van Dieren, owner of Strawberry Swing Indie Craft Fair, it's the personal interactions that come with shopping locally that make it so special.
“You really do see the person who made your item," Mabry Van Dieren said. "And then you will remember that when you look at it and when you gift it, it just makes it more important — I think."
It's also the kind of support and love that keeps the manager of Junque Drawer Boutique, Hannah Greer, smiling. She has been running her business with her mom at their Olathe location for nearly a decade.
“It’s cool to see people actually crammed in, as opposed to two years ago when there was no one in the store,” Greer said.
She says they were able to stay afloat thanks to loyal customers like Michele Noble.
“With the pandemic, so many of the small businesses that I used to frequent went out of business because they couldn’t stay sustainable — because they were closed for so long," Noble said. "So it’s really important to support local businesses and keep them in Kansas City."