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Thanks for supporting local businesses

There is a common theme coming from many of downtown Duluth's retailers. They are telling us that Small Business Saturday is one of their busiest, if not their single busiest day of the year. We have many of you, our readers, to thank for that.

It was great to feel the positive energy in our central business district on Small Business Saturday. Our merchants hosted open houses, demonstrations and special promotions. The weather was unseasonably warm and shoppers came out in force to show their support of our local businesses.

This relatively new national shopping experience has provided a jump start to the holiday season for main street merchants across the country. In Duluth, we took advantage of the opportunity to start promoting the event five years ago. It has grown substantially, proving to be an economic driver during the holiday season and throughout the year.

It is rewarding to see our community members and visitors show their support of our local businesses. After all, these are the businesses that support our local economy. They pay taxes and provide jobs for so many of our friends and neighbors. The dollars spent at these retailers remain in our market, often spent on services and supplies. Plus, the owners of these businesses are frequently the individuals you see at the soccer field or are the first to provide a donation to a silent auction or benefit. They are fully invested in the Duluth area community.

This is also a call to action to encourage you to remember these businesses throughout the holiday shopping season, not just on Small Business Saturday. They make us unique and weave the fabric of our community. If you are looking for that perfect gift for someone special in your life, you will find it in downtown Duluth.

And because our downtown is a base for entrepreneurs, it's exciting that our property owners are again participating in our Pop-Up Shop program. Four participants are getting a chance to try out a storefront location, rent-free, during the holiday season. Please make sure to stop by Antiques on 1st, Northlight Gallery, Market Day-a Winter Downtown and Bob Does Duluth. Check out for more information on the shops and their locations. This partnership allows property owners to fill vacant space while giving entrepreneurs a chance to test the market without a monthly rental expense. In several instances, this program has turned some Pop-Up Shops into stable, longer term tenants. It's a win-win!

So, whether you are coming to Duluth's Downtown Waterfront for shopping, dining, entertainment or a visit to the magical Bentleyville Tour of Lights, I thank you for supporting our businesses.

Kristi Stokes

Kristi Stokes is the president of the Greater Downtown Council in Duluth. Contact her at 727-8549.