So the madness of Black Friday has begun. Many of you are probably reading this on your phones while waiting in line to score that sweet big screen TV or 50% off all the clothes you can grab. While I will probably be joining in the craziness with some online shopping of my own, every year I try to participate the following day in Shop Local Saturday by stopping by a few of our locally owned stores.
Small Business Saturday is the newest addition to the post-Thanksgiving shopping extravaganza. While Black Friday focuses on big box retailers and Cyber Monday focuses on online shopping, Small Business Saturday pushes locally owned small businesses. What’s interesting is that the event was actually founded by American Express to help their business customers bring in more business.
In Helena, the slogan “shop small” has a more personal meaning than it does in a city like Seattle. Small businesses truly are the back bone of our community. We know the families that own our hair salons, furniture stores, restaurants, etc. When business is slow in January or people drive out of town to buy clothes or home goods, it impacts our friends’ lives, many of whom are simply trying to break even. Shopping locally truly affects our local economy. Surprisingly, today over half of all working Americans own or work for a small business – so it’s not just a small town thing!
One of my favorite local businesses is Bella, a women’s clothing boutique started about a year by three generations of Helena women (pictured below) – Dorry Davis, Cathy Campbell, and Jordan Yancey.
Cathy Campbell originally opened another store, Handworks, a cute little boutique in downtown Helena that carries a wide variety of jewelry, pottery, candles, plants, and housewares. The decor and style of the place is very Delta shabby chic, but would look right at home in Seattle’s Ballard or Fremont neighborhoods. Cathy bases the selections she offers on what she personally likes, hence the store’s tag-line “A Few of Our Favorite Things.” Let me tell you, her favorite things are basically every girls’ favorite things! Whenever I go in there, I see about eight items I want but probably don’t need. Smelly candles are one of my weaknesses!
After successfully running her store for a few years, Cathy and her daughter Dorry began talking about what women in the area want and need. One of the biggest issues in rural communities is having access to stylish and high quality merchandise, this particularly an issue for women (obviously…). Women in Helena were driving several hours to shop the styles and brands they wanted. Handworks carried a few clothing items here and there, but it wasn’t the business’s focus. Jordan was friends with Cathy’s son and was slated to move to town with her farmer fiancee. She was interested in creating a stylish women’s clothing boutique, so she, Cathy, and Dorry began scheming; from those conversations, and with a lot of work, sprang Bella. Bella carries clothing and accessories targeted to women of all ages with brands including: Free People, Wells Grace, Nally & Millie, and Kendra Scott. Currently Bella does not have a permanent space of it’s own, so for the moment the shop is set-up in the back of Handworks – it’s a two for one!
Last week my friend Brooke and I stopped by the shop to scope out their fall selections. Jordan was there and she thought it’d be fun to pull together a couple looks highlighting some of their most popular seasonal pieces. She roped Brooke and one of the “Bella girls”, another Jordan, into putting on a little fashion show in their partially renovated space next door. Slated to open in 2015, Bella’s permanent store front is going to be elegant and luxurious, two adjectives rarely associated with the Delta. The new space will feature gorgeous chandeliers and elegant doorways. I can’t wait for the opening day, but for now it’s a great playground for taking pictures.
I also took a bunch of pictures of the girls with a gorg. crystal chandelier behind them, but the lighting did not cooperate, so just use your imaginations.
The great thing about both Bella and Handworks is that you too can shop with them to support small businesses in Helena! To shop with Handworks, just visit www.HandworksHelena.com. Be sure to check out the “Made in Helena” section.
To shop with Bella, head to their Facebook page. Before they started their e-commerce, I had no idea that you could shop through Facebook! It’s dangerous… To shop using Bella’s Facebook page, look for the ShopEasy tab at the top or left side of the page. This app allows you to create a secure shopping profile. Once your profile is complete, you can shop by simply commenting on any post with your size and R/S (run card & ship). If you prefer not to create a shopping profile, you can also check-out as a guest. I hope you love their merchandise and story as much as I do!
This Saturday, please remember to #ShopSmall and #ShopLocal, whether it’s with my favorite businesses or yours.