By MATTHEW UMSTEAD
7:18 PM EST, November 24, 2012
A few snowflakes and decidedly cooler temperatures Saturday didn’t seem to slow holiday gift buying at least at a few businesses in downtown Hagerstown.
Bikle’s Ski Shop on North Potomac Street was abuzz with activity as customers tried on ski boots, while others browsed the store and still others picked up merchandise.
Inner BeYouTy owner Veeda Bassette said many regular customers had visited her South Potomac Street store Saturday, apparently in response to special activities planned, but added she still was “surprised” by the uptick in business.
At The Potomac Bead Company on West Washington Street, a line of customers waiting to check out showed no signs of ebbing Saturday afternoon, which one employee said remained steady since the business opened hours earlier.
Those in charge at the ski and bead shops were too busy with customers to talk about what appeared to be strong sales activity on Small Business Saturday.
The initiative, promoted nationally by American Express since 2010, is meant to help small businesses between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
In addition to an incentive that American Express offered to cardholders to shop at small businesses Saturday, the city of Hagerstown sweetened the pot by offering shoppers a chance to win $100 in “City Center Dollars” if they took part in the small-business promotion locally.
Ruth Japzon of Hagerstown, who entered a chance to win one of the three $100 prizes offered by the city after shopping at the bead store, said she also was taking advantage of the American Express promotion.
Patrons were able to enter the drawing by taking their store receipt showing they had spent at least $20 at a small business in the city to the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau office near Public Square.
American Express was offering a $25 credit to cardholders for making a small-business purchase.
The majority of about 30 people who visited the visitors center by Saturday at 1:45 p.m. had entered the drawing, said Roger Keller, who was staffing the center.
For what is typically a slow day, the number of visitors Saturday wasn’t bad, Keller said.
After doing some Christmas shopping at Northside Clock Shop on Potomac Avenue, Donald and Jan Eccard of Falling Waters, W.Va., stopped by the visitors center to enter the drawings.
“I’d love to win,” Jan Eccard said.
Eccard said they shopped at the clock shop because the business has a lot of nice items that can’t be found at larger retail stores.
“He’s buying for me,” Eccard said, laughing.
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