JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — With shots in arms and stores open for in-person shopping once again, this holiday season is a far cry from the one we saw in 2020.
While health experts are now encouraging families to gather safely for the holidays, people were also able to engage in the traditions of Black Friday and Small Business Saturday in full force once again.
What’s coined as the biggest shopping weekend of the year did not disappoint. For businesses in downtown Johnson City, a majority said they saw record numbers.
“We did a 25% increase from 2019 so we’re very happy with that,” said Owl’s Nest owner Jessica Moore. Moore’s business has been open for almost 12 years with six and a half of those years in downtown.
She said since the pandemic, they’ve seen a slight increase in shopping small no matter what time of the year it is because people want to support their local shops. She’s also seen a tremendous amount of growth in downtown retailers overall. She said it’s something she and other businesses welcome with open arms.
“It kind of makes it like its own little village. People are starting to come down here and spend whole evenings down here by getting something to eat and then going shopping to see some of their favorite stores,” Moore said.
Another long-standing tenant is Michael Short, the owner of Artisans’ Village. He’s been downtown for nine years and said Saturday is usually their bigger day in terms of sales. He’s also seen the main drag change for the better in terms of bringing in more retailers.
“Before, you could go a whole day down here without really seeing anyone,” Short said. “Routinely now, there’s a lot of foot traffic in and out of the store and on the sidewalks. There’s a lot more growth to happen. We see it every day as we walk down the street with buildings being renovated and new ideas being explored.”
Shannon Castillo, an affiliate broker with Mitch Cox Realty, said things are “alive and well” in downtown. In fact, she said even more retailers will be joining the Johnson City scene before year’s end. According to Castillo, Kingsport-based Hometown Cottage will be opening a second location on Spring Street. Negotiations are also underway on the lease for the Masengills property.
“We’re really busy on the commercial real estate side getting brand new tenants into our spaces and the best news is that the retailers that are already down here are thriving,” said Castillo.
Katie Owens, the assistant shop manager at Reclaimed Inspired Goods, said she was happy to see the support this past weekend, but year-round she said the biggest support system is each other.
“When people are coming to shop, they ask where else they can go since they’re down here and we’re really great about coming alongside each other and helping push business their way as well,” Owens said.
While the biggest shopping weekend may be over, that doesn’t mean things will slow down. Shop owners told News Channel 11 they anticipate it will be busy through Christmas Eve.