WASILLA — Businesses around the Valley geared up for an epic day on Small Business Saturday.
More than 20 businesses in Palmer and over 25 businesses in Wasilla participate in the celebration of local commerce, preferring local vendors to big box stores on Black Friday. Shoppers could find deals on all sorts of goods at shops around the Valley hoping their neighbors shop local. Wasilla Mayor Bert Cottle said members of his family will make the trip across the Valley for a bazaar at Colony High and through the shops in downtown Palmer before returning to Wasilla.
“It’s kind of a big deal that people are going out to support local businesses and makes you feel good,” Cottle said.
Fish Creek Sales did offer deals on Black Friday that were run through the weekend. Owner Scott Rideout believes that Fish Creek offers the best selection of backcountry snowmachine gear anywhere in the Valley with parts, accessories, apparel, a service shop, avalanche protection equipment and more. Fish Creek saw a surge of shoppers on Black Friday, most of whom were not just making the rounds to browse but gearing up for a busy season on the snow.
“Today especially has been bananas,” Rideout said. “There’s not much snow here but Cantwell just got like six feet this week or something, so I mean the guys that are snowmachining, they’re out there riding.”
Fish Creek Sales will also host an avalanche safety chat on Dec. 6 at 6 p.m. Suffering an illness for the past week, Rideout has relied on his staff to keep backcountry snowmachiners around the Valley prepared for winter.
“All of us are powersports enthusiasts, that’s what I like to think sets us apart from the dealers and stuff is our service. We’re pretty knowledgeable on almost all of the products that we sell,” Rideout said.
Businesses in The Clock Tower were also happy to offer incentives to shoppers willing to stay in the Valley for their holiday shopping. Chickadees on the bottom floor is offering buy one, get one deals on Alaskan ornaments, candles, and purses. Chickadees neighbor in the Clock Tower Alaska Chicks is offering deals on fleece hoodies and trucker hats as well as a variety of apparel on clearance. Working at Alaska Chicks for her first Small Business Saturday weekend, Madelyn Leingang is excited about the rush of shoppers on Small Business Saturday. Though she won’t be able to join them, Leingang said her family will also be staying in the Valley for Small Business Saturday.
“They just want to stay within our community here,” Leingang said.
The Palmer Chamber of Commerce has sponsored Shop Palmer to offer shoppers that fill out a punch card the opportunity to win cash prizes. Backcountry Bike and Ski was not open on Black Friday, as owners Julie and Tony Berberich prefer to spend the time with their family. However, Backcountry Bike and Ski had their best retail day of 2018 on Small Business Saturday, according to Julie Berberich. Berberich credits the Palmer Chamber of Commerce for embracing the weekend and getting people out to shop Palmer.
“It serves to be like the opposite of Black Friday and supporting small businesses instead of big box stores is that people in Palmer tend to really be all about shopping local,” Berberich said.
Aktive Soles opened bright and early at 7 a.m. to serve their Small Business Saturday shoppers with deals on shoes. Open on Friday, even the shoppers were preparing for the rush on Saturday.
“We’ve actually got more people coming in scoping stuff out for tomorrow. They’re actually pretty excited about Small Business Saturday,” Raymond Chapman with Aktive Soles said. “It’s exciting because there’s the people that know the store and have already scoped out the shoes they want and it gets them in, but it also brings in people that don’t know what we’re about and it gives us the chance to kind of educate them on proper footwear and what’s going to be good for their feet. It’s not a style thing for us, really it’s more about functional footwear to get people out and active and to help keep them active.”
Aktive Soles offer deals on shoes, snowshoes, smart wool apparel, socks, and also have a Toys 4 Tots box for toy donations in the store. Chapman believes that the connection in the Valley is stronger than the draw of savings at big box stores.
“It says a lot about how much people here in Palmer value personal connection. They want to have a personal connection with who they’re buying from,” Champan said. “Small Business Saturday is just kind of a good day to bring in more people that you can make more connections with. It’s always been about that for us, it’s that personal touch you don’t get from the box store.”
The Revive Spa in Palmer is making their second stop under the water tower. Owner Kelsie McGraw opened Revive in Wasilla in 2015 and moved to Palmer in 2017 before moving back to Wasilla. Revive now owns two locations, a massage spa in Wasilla and a gender neutral spa in Palmer. Revive offers a full service spa for men and women and are offered deals for chemical peels, new services for members and discounts on bookings through the end of the year. Hoping to kick the reputation of being constantly booked, the gender neutral location in Palmer is catered to self care services for both men and women.
“It’s a lot of fun. Everyone is I guess more curious than normal about what is everything that’s offered and then we also offer a lot of things like our retail, a lot of it is Alaska made so it’s cool to be able to kind of support other small businesses through Revive,” McGraw said. “It’s just awesome to be in a community, something I love about Palmer is people will just walk in and ask a bunch of questions.”