Ahead of the holiday season, local businesses are welcoming new and returning customers into their shops thanks to Shop Small Saturday.

Shopping local has never been more important. It’s easy to turn to amazon and other large retailers for Black Friday sales, but Shop Small Saturday helps puts the focus back on small businesses in Erie.

“Just great for a lot of us to be able to get a lot of new faces in the door, which is really probably the best part about it. We’re usually busy on Saturday but there are a lot of new faces today. A lot of people don’t make it downtown that often and now they’re finding out not only us but a bunch of the new businesses that are down here,” said Andy Steinmetz, owner, Andora’s Bubble Tea.

Steinmetz also said that he’s proud to have a business in downtown Erie and even has menu items utilizing Erie as inspiration.

“It really represents itself in our menu. We have a Blue Moon drink, we have an orange twist drink and we try to incorporate a lot of local flavors and a lot of local tradition into our drinks and recipes,” Steinmetz added.

Meanwhile, the Boston Store was packed with customers and vendors alike, totaling around 45 different pop-up shops.

Small businesses note that competing against popular chains can be a difficult task and having your own local style and unique appeal is what can set you apart.

“I think it’s really important to come up with unique ideas or concepts, in my case having the cats next door from Because You Care and being able to offer this adoption platform is really special. It kind of gives you this really neat cafe experience, but then you also get to have this animal therapy part, which brings people out and wants to support even more because it’s a unique concept,” said Dena Rupp, owner, Purista Cat Café.

Small shops from all around Erie have said that the customers they get on Saturday and year-round truly help give back to the Erie community.