By: MELISSA SEYBOLDT
Since 2010, American Express has urged people to dedicate the day after Black Friday to “shopping small,” calling it Small Business Saturday. Such efforts have aided in spreading the word about the positive impacts local shopping has on communities.
Not only does shopping locally support families close to home – the act also keeps more of a consumer’s hard-earned money in their community and creates jobs.
A cluster of stores in Downtown South Bend located on Michigan Street shared their companies’ backgrounds, and highlighted that locally-owned stores often have great stories (and great people) behind them.
Found behind the South Bend Chocolate Café, Made in Michiana sells locally-made arts and crafts, ranging from homemade fashion accessories to quality woodwork. Each display includes a picture of the artist and a description of their craft. The items are priced by the artists themselves.
The store is owned by five women who met at each others’ art shows and often said how much they would love to open their own shop, according to co-owner Kitty Hoye.
The store first appeared in downtown South Bend as a “pop-up shop.” The Pop-Up Shop Program allows retail shops “free rent for two months in store fronts located in the heart of the central business district,” according to http://www.downtownsouthbend.org.
“We applied for one of the spaces and got it. We started with twelve artists and now we have fifty!” Hoye said.
Co-owner Mary Labuzienski said the popularity of any given item varies from day to day.
“We appeal to such a wide range of people, and some people are highly committed to local.”
Labuzienski couldn’t help but mention “Petey Boxer the World-Famous Shop Dog,” who visits the shop regularly and “really brightens people’s day.”
Hours of operation can be found at http://www.madeinmichiana.com.
Just down the road, Idle Hours Bookshop is operated by Josie Doyle and her husband, Patrick, who started the store out of his passion for books. Doyle said it began with Patrick’s personal collection and is now expanding based on what they buy from people.
Other than the classics section, all books are 10% off for students. The store’s hours are listed on idlehoursbookshop.com.
Indiana Rug Company & Textile Boutique not only sells a collection of rugs, but also furniture, clothing and accessories, pillows and a number of other items. Pam Richardes founded the company in 1983 from a two-stall garage, according to her daughter, Lindsay Vest.
The retail store opened on Sep. 20.
“We get to see all our mom and dad’s hard work pay off,” Vest said, standing alongside her brother Clark Richardes.
The company is primarily family-operated and the creative founder even taught her children to sew and upholster, according to Richardes. He added that the company works with the State Theatre to bring more people to the Downtown South Bend area.
“There’s really a lot more to do in South Bend than a lot of people think,” he said.
Indianarugco.com lists the store’s hours.
Imagine That! is a toy store owned by Donald Willman, and was named Indiana’s Largest Award Winning Independent Specialty Toy Store.
“Our sister store is in downtown Mishawaka and has been there more than 27 years, and the downtown South Bend store has been here for 3 years,” Willman said.
“We have toys for newborns to any age.”
Whether it’s for holiday or year-round shopping, South Bend has no shortage of local businesses to support.
Other retailers in the area include South Bend Brew Werks, Just Goods, The Mole Hole, Griffon Books, Inspire Me! Boutique, Access Imprinted Sportswear, Junk Evolution, Buttons and Bows, South Bend Candy and Card Company, and a number of others.
For those looking for one shopping destination, the South Bend Farmers Market brings local farmers, as well as artists and craftsmen, together under one roof to sell their goods.