SHOP small


Paula Barrington, executive director of the Downtown Wheaton Association, has one message for area shoppers on Small Business Saturday: “Keep local awesome.”

In an effort to recognize Wheaton’s mom-and-pop stores, Barrington has partnered with local business owners and the Wheaton Chamber of Commerce to create a little incentive for their customers. Starting on Small Business Saturday – Nov. 24 this year – buyers will be gifted a custom canvas tote bag with the “Shop Small” logo after visiting their favorite shops.

Barrington also shared that customers will receive specially made booklets, or “passports,” and can earn a stamp just by stopping in or buying items. The idea is to collect as many stamps as possible and submit the completed passport. Customers then will be entered into a drawing for a prized gift basket.

For Barrington, all of this work is done to honor Downtown Wheaton’s entrepreneurs, which she calls “the heart” of the community, and without them, “you’d be losing that core.” Some of the storefronts in Wheaton are family-owned and have dedicated years of care to their customers, allowing them to compete and even surpass the loyalty of the big-box retailers.

“It’s very, very gratifying to see that there are those businesses that have stood the test of time and still have carried on that legacy of a commitment to quality service,” Barrington said.

Dawn Smith shared those sentiments, adding that “Small Business Saturday truly should be 365, all-year round.” As the executive director of the Glen Ellyn Chamber of Commerce, she knows that sellers look forward to the holiday season and count on this revenue to see them through.

In order to show more support for the village’s local business owners, the Chamber will hand out bags packed with deals during the Holiday Walk, an annual Christmas-inspired event held on Black Friday. This year’s Holiday Walk is Nov. 23, and all are welcome to an evening of family friendly activities. The Christmas tree lighting will take place at 6 p.m., followed by a photo-op with Santa Claus and a Nutcracker performance by a ballerina.

Smith said the holiday window contest returns, a coveted competition for participating retailers, and this year’s theme is “holiday treats.” Winners will be announced Nov. 21.

“And they take it seriously!” she exclaimed. “Let me tell you.”