Starting the holidays
Small business shopping event draws crowds to downtown
As the last passenger lined up at the Farmers Market hopped onto Trolley No. 71, driver Randy Waller clanged the bell and Small Business Saturday was off.
“This is wonderful,” Waller said taking the turn onto Third Street to make the first stop of the run at the City Center.
Clambering there to get on were young mothers and their children who had just gotten their photos taken with Santa Claus.
Within the first hour of the event that stretched from South Second Street to Ironton Hills shopping plaza, Santa had posed with 40 youngsters in the lobby of the City Center.
“It’s been non-stop,” Katrina Keith, Ironton aLive member, said taking a break from registering the children before they jumped up on Santa’s lap.
When community activist and Farmers Market manager Sam Heighton heard that statistic, he broke into a broad grin saying, “That’s great.”
Saturday was the second year for Ironton aLive to give its blessing and backing to Small Business Saturday, a nationwide shopping spree designed to promote the individual merchant over the big box stores.
This time 33 merchants, mainly in downtown Ironton, joined in the day offering discounts or BOGOs.
Joe Unger, decked out in his red plaid holiday tie, had a packed house at Unger’s Shoes where any purchase came with a $5 discount.
“It’s going great,” he said. “We’ve been covered over.”
As the trolley kept on Vernon Street, Waller made the turn into the parking lot of the new Holiday Inn Express where passengers got off or made room for those waiting in front of the hotel.
Inside visitors got a tour of the new hotel and a chance to warm up with hot chocolate and cookies. Back on the bus, Waller made the last loop of his tour at the Ironton Hills before heading back to the Farmers Market.
There in place of the summertime stands of fresh produce was a log fire with Scoutmasters Larry Anderson and Aaron Heighton of Troop 106 helping toast marshmallows to turn a table of chocolate squares and Graham crackers into S’mores.
Joshua Smith Jr. let Anderson do most of the toasting while his mother, Diana Smith of Ironton, watched.
“This is really good,” Smith said about the shopping event. “Ironton doesn’t do a whole lot like this.”
Across the street Mrs. Claus with her entourage of elves, direct from the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization, was overseeing the decoration of sugar cookies, compliments of Spice of Life in Coal Grove.
Riley Stapleton, 3, of Kitts Hill, was more interested in munching her bell cookie than waiting for elf Ralph Kline to paint her initial on with icing.
“We’ve had more than I thought,” Kline said.
Before the shopping day ended at 2 p.m. Sam Heighton had a prediction.
“We’ll get more businesses participating next time when they see how well this goes,” he said.