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Shoppers and lookers fill downtown streets on Small Business Saturday

November 30th, 2013 11:18 pm by Rick Wagner

Shoppers and lookers fill downtown streets on Small Business Saturday

Parking was at a premium on Broad Street Saturday. Rick Wagner photo.

KINGSPORT  — Folks from the region, including Tennessee and Kentucky, were shopping in force in downtown Kingsport on Small Business Saturday.

“My mom heard about the event they have here,” Sharon Lawson of Dandridge, Tenn., said while shopping with her husband during  the Haggle Shop open house on Broad Street Saturday afternoon. Other shoppers interviewed were from Harlan, Ky., and Rogersville.

“I’m not looking for anything in particular, but I like looking. It brings up old memories,” said Lawson, who came with her mother and husband. However, Lawson had her eye on a blue glass basket to take home.

Small Business Saturday, a program started by American Express, is designed to support small businesses on the Saturday after Black Friday, so-named because many retailers go from the red to the black and make a profit the day after Thanksgiving.

Cathy Cope, manager of Sea Oddities on Broad Street that her parents own, said retail downtown is a mixture of attracting window shoppers who may come back later and getting shoppers in the stores more inclined to buy something today.

“There’s a difference between having people down here and having people buying,” Cope said as she got fish out of an aquarium for a customer and her son, Max, worked. “With Small Business Saturday, you go out with the intent of potentially buying.”

The Haggle Shop, owned by Bob and Joyce Grills, will mark its 50th anniversary next year and has been having the open houses about 35 years, Joyce Grills said.

“Ever since I was little, I worked in the shop,” said Kim Burke, the Grills’ daughter. Their son, Bobby, also is involved with the business. “It’s good to support  your local economy and people who live in your community.”

Down the street, Pat Houchens with her husband, Jerry Houchens owns and operates P & J Antiques on the other side of Broad Street from the Haggle Shop with help from the Houchens’ son and daughter. She said the Saturday after Thanksgiving “has always been a big day for us.”

P & J open houses will be every Saturday in December before Christmas.

“The main thing people are looking at is quality,” she said of antique furniture. She said shoppers come from Kentucky, Virginia, Florida and Texas, some repeat customers year after year.

For an expanded version of this article, please see Sunday's print edition or our expanded electronic edition.

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