NEW ULM — Small Business Saturday may replace Black Friday as the best day to shop, at least locally.
Downtown New Ulm Businesses saw an uptick in customers both Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving. Black Friday is often celebrated as the biggest shopping day of the year, but through local advertising, Small Business Saturday can be even more important to local businesses.
Gallery 512 co-owner Jessica Fisher says Small Business Week is one of their favorite days of the year. A shopping holiday always brings a crowd.
Fisher said the weather was also a benefit this year. Temperatures were above normal for late November, with temperatures in the high 40s or low 50s throughout the day. This meant more foot traffic downtown.
Gallery 512’s tradition is to host a table of seasonal treats for patrons just inside the front door, provided by Becky’s Bakes. This year they had fall cupcakes.
When asked what items are most popular this year, Fisher said many customers are buying jackets and cardigans in preparation for cooler weather.
Bailey Creek Boutique has also seen a run in jackets. A jacket/shirt combination or “shirt” was their number one seller, but pants and shoes also sold well.
Sandy Reinke, owner of Bailey Creek, confirmed that Small Business Saturday is the biggest sales day of the weekend. He said Black Friday is a strong day, but historically small business Saturdays have more customer traffic.
Bailey Creek has also seen a surge in popularity thanks to a TikTok video featuring Reinke that went viral. In the video, Reinke is seen wearing multiple layers of clothing from the store at once. TikTok became popular and inspired some to visit out of town. Kailyn McGaheran of Owatonna came to New Ulm specifically to visit the store after seeing TikTok.
Guten Tag Haus saw a high volume of customers over the weekend. Cindy Stabeno confirmed that Black Friday saw a large number of tourists, with Saturday bringing in more local shoppers.
Stabeno said there is generally an increase in shoppers during the Christmas season, but said the store’s biggest sales days are actually during the Oktoberfest weekend. Black Friday and Small Business Week are usually the second highest.
During the Christmas season, Guten Tag Haus sells a variety of Christmas decorations. Stabeno said most people buy gifts for them that are based on a theme. Everyone has their favorite decorating theme. For some it’s dogs, for others it’s icicles.
Christmas sets are another popular item. New season nuts are selling well. Many customers are looking for German themed items. Stabeno said gingerbread houses are very popular. Small wooden houses made great seasonal decorations. Since gingerbread houses are hollow, a small light can be placed inside for additional lighting.
A to Zinnia was the first stop for many holiday shoppers. In addition to the variety of Christmas decorations, customers could even purchase a Christmas tree from the green house. There was a great demand for natural landscaping. The staff said the fir pot sets were selling faster than they could be made.
Sweet Tonic products also sold quickly. Customers bought bottles of Sweet Tonic as stocking stuffers.
When it comes to holiday decorating, each local store saw different trends among shoppers. A to Zinnia said neutrals such as browns, tans and cream colors are popular. Vintage looks were popular.
Bailey Creek reported that plaid and flannel designs were. Inspired cited natural coloring as a customer favorite.
While Small Business Week brought in out-of-town shoppers, the trend was to see more local shoppers.
Store employees say tourists traditionally visit New Ulm stores on Black Friday, while local shoppers visit on Saturday.
Jenny Hinsman and Peggy Sandel at New Ulm’s Own Fair Trade confirmed that their tendency is to see out-of-towners on Friday and familiar locals on Saturday.
Hinsman said both days were busy for the Fair Trade store. Three popular products at New Ulm’s Own were chocolate, coffee and Christmas ornaments.
Hinsman and Sundell expect more Christmas shoppers over the next month. This will be New Ulm’s last Christmas in its current location.
At the end of this season, New Ulm’s Own will close for a few months to switch places with knitting shop NadelKnunst. New Ulm’s Own will move to the storefront and NadelKunst will move to the back. New Ulm’s Own will close Dec. 23 and reopen in March.
Although Small Business Saturday promotions are over, many local businesses will continue their holiday sales through December.