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Crowds flocked to Gainesville square for weekend of shopping
Stores had strong business on Friday, Saturday

While big box stores across the nation absorbed volumes of rabid shoppers for Black Friday, the Gainesville square saw a high number of shoppers all weekend.

Small Business Saturday, also known as Shop Local Saturday, is a national counter-effort to the effects Black Friday has on chain stores that aims to bring the same traffic to local businesses.

It benefited a number of businesses in downtown Gainesville, which also saw record Black Friday traffic.

“We saw good traffic both Friday and Saturday this year,” said Don Griffin, owner of Frames You Nique. “Normally we see less on Friday and more Saturday, but this year it was really about the same number of people coming through both days.”

Griffin said it was encouraging to see shoppers in small, local businesses on Black Friday, when traditionally shoppers have been known to flock to the box stores.

“This was probably the best weekend for us in a while,” he said. “Actually, (Sunday) we saw a good number of people come through as well. It’s been the best weekend we’ve had in a good long time, of that after-Thanksgiving shopping.”

Sarah Beth Little, manager at J.R. Crider’s in Gainesville, said “both days went really well” for the store, and she also saw a bit more traffic on Friday.

“Black Friday was actually record sales for our store, which was awesome,” Little said. “But Shop Local was really great, too. We got a lot of local support, which is great to see.”

Little called the traffic in the square all weekend “tremendous.”

Local eateries benefited from increased shoppers, as well.

Ciera White, manager at Avocados Restaurant, said Shop Local Saturday brought additional traffic to Avocados.

“I believe it did,” White said. “And around the holidays, we see a lot of families together, so big parties come in all weekend.”

Griffin said he would attribute the increase in post-Thanksgiving traffic to a number of things. He said he thinks the economy getting better has helped, and the closure of some national stores for the holidays probably contributed as well.

“This year a number of the chain stores, I understand, were closed,” he said. “That may have a bearing. Frankly, you need a day off, and I think it was a good thing for those companies to let their employees off for the holiday. They’re going to recoup that."

Thus, the increased traffic in Gainesville was “a little bit of everything,” he said.

“It doesn’t hurt that the weather was 70 degrees,” he said. “There were also a number of merchants who got together to do something as far as promoting the square, which helped. And the Main Street Gainesville group has done a great job of getting people downtown and making them aware again that we are here.”

Little agreed.

“The square is really growing up,” she said. “It’s thriving now.”

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