MADEIRA, Ohio - With the Black Friday frenzy over, small businesses like Gilson’s in Madeira got a chance Saturday to cash in on the early wave of holiday shoppers.
A steady stream of customers came into manager Laura Garling’s shop on Small Business Saturday looking for special, personalized gifts you can’t find in a box store. Gilson’s specializes in engraving and "elegant gifts," according to its website.
"We can do glass and acrylic. We do a lot of personalized gifts for Christmas," Garling said.
Sharon Watson said she found just what she was looking for.
"I have a dear friend who lives in Florida. I've been thinking, thinking, thinking what I could get him,” Watson said.
She settled on monogrammed cufflinks.
“It's perfect, yeah," Watson said, admiring the monogram she picked out.
And she was pleased to hear her gift would be ready by Monday.
The personal touch is just one thing that sets small businesses like Gilson’s apart from Amazon and the box stores, Garling said.
"We have customers that do Amazon,” Garling said. “The thing is, if you want something specialized you can't get that on Amazon. It's very hard to figure out how to do a monogram or specialized pieces on Amazon."
Garling said some shoppers wouldn’t know the special buys and attention they can get at Gilson’s and other family businesses if it weren’t for Small Business Saturday.
“A lot of people are walking around, going into stores they've never been in before. That's the good thing about small businesses. People experience stores they've never been in," Garling said.
"Small Business Saturday is real important to us because we actually help the Madeira community.”
Similar scenes played out around Greater Cincinnati.
Across town, organizers said more than 6,000 people attended the Westside Holiday Market in Cheviot. More than 100 vendors specializing in handmade goods from the Tri-State area set up shop in the city-owned parking lot on Harrison Avenue. They even had bonfires and free photos with Santa.
It was a boon for buyers and sellers, they said.
"These people, they put their heart and soul into what they do. They work hard to make these unique crafts. That's often times how they pay their bills. This is their income,” said organizer Cory Gaiser.
"When you shop local, and buy things local, it inspires people to keep that money local, instead of giving it to big corporations or big chains," said Krystle Gaiser.
Across the river, the 41st annual Winterfair filled the Northern Kentucky Convention Center to the brim with ceramics, blown glass and jewelry made and sold by some 250 local artists.
Winterfair continues Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
In Milford, Hometown for the Holidays also continues Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. This annual family friendly event has plenty of small-town charm. Residents are invited to shop local at the Milford businesses and restaurants in the historic district along the four blocks of Main Street. The event includes carolers, carriage rides and free antique firetruck rides.
And if you only want to shop online, don’t forget small businesses on Cyber Monday. They have websites, too.