CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Small businesses across the Charlotte area did their best Saturday to cash in on one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year.
On Small Business Saturday, local shop owners told Channel 9 how important this day was for their bottom line.
"Competition is stiff when we look at the internet and the big-box stores, so we really appreciate people coming in,” said Paul Whitsett, co-owner of Olive’s Mud Puddle in Fort Mill.
Whitsett, who owns an art gallery, studio and coffee shop in Fort Mill, said that without support from the local community, small businesses can't exist, let alone grow.
Started in 2010, Small Business Saturday is sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but it's what small businesses offer that set them apart.
"Small Business Saturday is about meeting the person who made the gift that you're buying,"
said Megan Liddle Gude, with Charlotte Center City Partners.
An annual Small Business Saturday festival in Charlotte's South End neighborhood helps shoppers explore 70 local businesses and more than 150 pop-up shops.
"We know that the vast majority of dollars you spend at a small business stay in our community right here,” Gude said. “(They) go to support other entrepreneurs."
Supporting the local entrepreneurs is what brought shoppers out to find unique gifts in downtown Fort Mill, which is lined with local shops.
“I think it’s very important to support all the local people who have invested in a town, and also, at the same time, just go shopping,” said Rosana Antolic, who is from Florida. “What woman doesn’t like to go shopping?”
Entrepreneurs, including Garry Burrell, hope the small business support continues throughout the next year.
“We obviously are passionate about what we’re doing in this town, on this street, trying to keep it going and revitalize it, and you can’t do that without supporting this community,” said Burrell, owner of Aesthetic Addiction in Fort Mill.
Holiday shoppers are expected to set a record this year with overall spending on gifts, but where the money is being spent continues to evolve.
Experts are predicting another uptick in online shopping this year.
The Black Friday rush started Thursday evening with a sprint, as shoppers tripped over themselves racing for the best buys.
Hours later, the shopping marathon dragged to a crawl when people literally shopped until they dropped.
"We're tired,” said shopper Dewayne Faircloth.
Black Friday initially got its name with the intent of bringing to mind the negative aspects of the day, such as traffic, massive crowds and long lines.
While some still view it as negative-sounding, many around the country view Black Friday as a positive day full of hundreds of shopping deals.
Faircloth said his three boys tagged along to pick out their Christmas presents until they wore out.
“The joy of seeing them, on Christmas smile and be excited, yes (it was worth it).”
A Concord Mills spokesperson said there were more customers on Black Friday this year than last year, with nearly 60,000 people shopping.
Even though online shopping is getting more popular, the mall spokesman said people are still showing up in person because they can get a lot of stuff at the mall that they can’t on their screen, including entertainment and food.
"We actually got here at 4:30 this morning,” shopper Mary Allen said. “We're still going. We kind of just got started.”
Some shoppers needed coffee to keep going.
"I drink a lot of coffee. I personally drink a lot of coffee,” shopper Artresse Brown said.
Channel 9 cameras were on as shoppers pushed and sprinted through the doors at Concord Mills on Thursday, rushing to get the best Black Friday deals.
Shoppers across the area and at different malls waited for hours or even days for the doors to open.
Some shoppers even skipped Thanksgiving dinner to be the first in the door.
"Just a tradition. I come with my son now,” shopper Teresa Bailey said.
Concord Mills was open for 27 straight hours for shoppers.
"I just jet in and jet out to get my shirts for $29,” shopper Michael Whittiker said.
Concord Mills officials expected the mall's 8,000 parking spots to fill up quickly.
"It's good exercise; get out the house, walk off the food and see what you can find,” shopper Marvin Matthews said.
"It's totes worth the wait,” Whittiker said.
While some people are excited for the deals, others said they are dragged along for moral support.
"It's not worth it. Honestly, for me, it's not worth it," said one shopper.
Black Friday is also known as one of the busiest shopping days of the year, with lines of shoppers forming the night before, waiting to snag good holiday deals.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said they placed additional patrols around major shopping centers.
CMPD Capt. Ryan Kendall said these places include North Lake Mall and South Park Mall.
BLACK FRIDAY STORIES:
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- BBB offers tips for more 'productive' Black Friday shopping experience
- Black Friday 2018: What time do Macy's, Walmart, Best Buy and other stores open?
- Black Friday 2018: 7 tips to help you get the best deals
- Macy's Black Friday ad: Some doorbuster items end up free this year
- Black Friday 2018: Walmart ad features deals on iPhones, TVs, laptops and more
- Study finds Charlotte-based Belk is best retailer for Black Friday
In Steele Creek, shoppers waited for hours Thursday in the unseasonably cold weather to get into the stores at the Charlotte Premium Outlets.
"I rounded the corner thinking it was going to be a short line, then I noticed how long it actually was,” shopper Candice Zegilla said.
Zegilla said she prepared more for the sales, rather than waiting in the cold.
"This was a last-minute decision, so I wasn't prepared properly,” she said. “(I) should have put on an extra jacket, but I thought it would be a quick in-and-out trip."
Other shoppers bundled up for the conditions.
“Wearing a big coat and having a scarf, keeping us warm,” shopper Sophie Phi said.
The Premium Outlets will stay open through 10 p.m. Friday.
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