Burlington retailers ready for Small Business Saturday

Published: Nov. 26, 2019 at 3:43 PM EST
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Small Business Saturday is just a few days away. It's a day that promotes shopping at locally owned retailers and spending money in your own community. That includes places like Church Street in Burlington, where businesses told our Ike Bendavid they're ready for shoppers.

Seventy percent of the places you can shop in downtown Burlington are locally owned, giving shoppers a lot of options for this holiday season to support local businesses. One consumer got an early start; the mayor strolled down Church Street Tuesday and we asked him whether business downtown is booming.

Reporter Ike Bendavid: Have you started your holiday shopping?

Mayor Miro Weinberger, D-Burlington: I'm about to!

Weinberger kicked off the holiday shopping season stopping at three local downtown businesses on Tuesday

"The in-person shopping experience is a much richer, broader shopping experience than going onto your phone late at night," Weinberger said.

The mayor used his mini-shopping spree as a way to show off downtown Burlington.

"There is a lot of construction going on downtown and I think that's on some people's minds," Weinberger said. "People should know Burlington is very much open for business."

His day focused on local businesses and what they mean for the community.

"It's really important," said Meghan Fitzpatrick of Lake Champlain Chocolates. "We are a small business here in the community and we do everything we can to get people to come to our stores."

"Small Business Saturday is definitely a focus on those small retailers that are really working as hard as they can to stay in business," said Sarah Beal of Common Deer.

Downtown Burlington is also home to some national retail chains. The mayor says it's a part of the bigger picture of a successful downtown.

"We love all of our downtown merchants," Weinberger said. "We think it's the mix of national, regional and local retailers are part of what contributes to such a successful marketplace."

As for consumers we talked with, some say they do shop online but these people like getting out and supporting their neighbors.

"I really like living in a community where there is a place like Church Street and I like supporting local businesses," said Molly Loomis of Burlington.

"I might see something that speaks to someone that-- like my dad or my mom-- where I might not have stumbled upon it any other way," said Stephanie Busch of Milton.

And the mayor agrees, calling downtown Burlington shopping vibrant and pointing to the sales tax numbers which have gone up every year he has been in office.

"Literally today, in 2019, we are at or near the highest amount of activity that we have ever seen in the downtown," Weinberger said.

A big concern a lot of people have is parking downtown. The city wanted to remind people that two of the city-owned garages are offering free parking on weekends.