Holly Shopping gives boost to locally owned businesses

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Black Friday is the nation’s busiest day of shopping for the year, but for locally-owned businesses in the center of Fort Wayne it’s all about Holly Shopping and Small Business Saturday.

The Downtown Improvement District (DID) held their annual “Holly Shopping” event today, which coincides with national Small Business Saturday — the Saturday after Black Friday where people are encouraged to shop at locally owned businesses in their area. DID put out eight trolley buses to transport people between businesses in the downtown area in the hopes of showing shoppers all the different products they can get from local stores.

The trolleys took people to over 50 locations around downtown and the Wells Street Corridor. Shopper Kara Eaton says she prefers buying locally-provided products because she trusts them more.

“If I’m going to buy soap I can buy it from a box or buy this locally made and I know what’s in it and I know it’s true,” said Eaton.

Along with regular brick-and-mortar stores, typically online businesses had pop-up shops set up. For those businesses without a sign on a door, it put their name in front of people who may not otherwise have heard about them.

“If I’m not doing it, shopping out and about local, I try to go online and shop local vendors,” said Eaton. “I just got this guy behind me, his card, and I guarantee you he has a website so I can go on there and buy from him directly.”

The card she took came from David Redmaster, whose wife owns skin care business Redmaster Fushion. He said they hand out business cards with a discount and link to their website to people who stop by their booth to encourage shoppers to order from them online. He said doing that can mean the difference between the company being a side gig or a full time job.

“It gets Redmaster Fusion’s name more out in the community,” said Redmaster. “More people talking about what we can slowly just generate out allows us to try to make this more full time moving forward down the road, moving from online to potentially back into a permanent brick and mortar.”

The Downtown Improvement District says seeing locally-owned businesses like Redmaster Fusion thrive will ultimately be better for Northeast Indiana as a whole.

“Downtown is the vibrant urban core of northeast Indiana and so we want to have a strong downtown and that will relate to a growing economy throughout northeast Indiana,” said Rick Zolman, the Events and Programming Manager for DID.

Around 80 pop-up shops and brick and mortar stores and restaurants took part in this year’s event. The Downtown Improvement District holds a similar shopping day in May on Mother’s Day.

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