BILLINGS — Following Black Friday, Small Business Saturday has taken place every year since 2010.
At The Maker’s Market on the Billings South Side, it was a day of celebration as the store hosted its first-ever Small Business Saturday shopping event.
“There is such a hunger to support local,” said Victoria Eichel, the owner of The Maker’s Market, on Saturday. “No matter what you’re doing.”
Shopping local and supporting fellow community members.
“I’d rather spend money on homemade local gifts than I would on Amazon,” said Courtney James, a shopper, on Saturday.
Buying local—Small Business Saturday is a day to do just that.
“I got a birdhouse, some handmade turtles, and the bottom of the stroller is full,” James said.
Founded in 2010 by American Express and cosponsored by the Small Business Administration since 2011, the day celebrates small, local businesses.
“We give back to where we live, which is huge,” James said.
In 2022, reported projected spending among US consumers who shopped on Small Business Saturday nationwide reached an estimated $17.9 billion according to American Express.
“These makers, it helps them financially, it helps them emotionally,” Eichel said. “Each and every sale, these makers feel.”
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there has been an increase nationally in small business start-ups. In 2020, the total number of applications for small businesses was the highest in comparison to past years.
According to a press release from the White House, under President Biden, Americans have filed a record 14.6 million applications to start businesses.
One of those new businesses is 406 Wood Designs, which got its start near the end of 2020.
“You really have to find a groove and cater because if you don’t you’re going to die among all the other people that can do things just as good or better,” said Austyn Pankratz, who owns 406 Wood Designs with his wife, on Saturday. “(Our business has) just taken off.”
Pankratz said days like Saturday mean the world to small business owners.
“It means a lot,” Pankratz said. “I mean, we’ll do stuff online and stuff, but it makes us feel a lot better about what we’re putting out into the community because we’re seeing the reaction firsthand instead of putting something in a box and shipping it.”
Ashley, Austyn’s wife and co-owner of the business, said seeing the reactions of customers is her favorite part about being a small business owner.
“Creating things that we both enjoy and seeing the excitement on people’s faces,” Ashley Pankratz said. “The smile on people’s faces when they see our stuff.”
Their products can be found inside The Maker’s Market, located at 4220 State Ave. in Billings.
“Seeing the community come in (to the store) is amazing,” Eichel said. “Feeling the support that the community gives to the makers is an absolute achievement of what we are trying to accomplish out here.”
The store opened in July and has seen great success thus far. It allows various small businesses to sell their products at the storefront.
“It has been a little bit of a rollercoaster, as every new business kind of goes in its ups and downs. But the rollercoaster has been awesome and I would definitely buy a ticket to it again,” Eichel said about running the business. “I always say we are a community of makers making a difference in our community. We take everyone, no matter what level of skill they’re at. No matter how many other similar makers we have to them. Everyone is welcome, and we’re still taking new vendors.“
On Saturday, the market held its first Small Business Saturday event. It allowed customers to meet the makers and put a face to their names.
“There’s just so much to choose from. It’s so nice to support all the local makers. I feel like The Maker’s Market is a really big plus for the Billings community and we want to support it,” said Marilyn Gervais, a shopper, on Saturday. “I mean, people work hard on their things and it’s nice to be recognized.”
Supporting our neighbors’ businesses while giving them a glimpse of the joy their products bring.
“Seeing the smile on people’s faces when they actually take something out of your hands that you just spent time creating,” Austyn Pankratz said. “You might think that it’s okay and then someone else thinks that it’s so great.”
To learn more about Small Business Saturday, click here.
To learn more about 406 Wood Designs, click here.
If you’re interested in selling your products inside The Maker’s Market, click here.