RICHLAND -- Chain stores had their door-buster event on Black Friday, but Saturday was all about the small business stores in the Tri-Cities.
Small Business Saturday was way better than usual at Aunt Franny's Toys in Richland, said David McAdoo as he rang up sales and handed out free goodie bags containing toys and chocolates.
"It's been good today, much better than last year when it snowed and was cold," McAdoo said. "Last year, we had only three people come in, and one was a reporter asking how (the first annual) Small Business Saturday was going," he said.
The answer then was, not good.
But, oh, what a difference a year and springlike weather can make.
This weekend's Saturday afternoon sunshine blessed customers and store owners.
Susan and Eric Wiedner of Richland toted 6-month-old daughter Natalie while gathering Christmas gift items at Aunt Franny's.
"It's our first time at this store, but we heard about Small Business Saturday, so we came here and New to You, a kid's clothing consignment store," Susan Wiedner said.
Most of the toy store purchases were for nieces, but at least one gift was for Natalie, she said.
Around the corner in the Uptown Mall at Minnie Jane's Antiques, Jen and John Reed were having a good day too.
The couple were filling in for John's parents who had temporarily closed the store because of a family medical emergency.
Thankfully, Small Business Saturday came on the first day of reopening, Jen Reed said.
There was a steady flow of customers throughout the afternoon.
"It has been fairly consistent all day," she said, adding that the owner of another business reported said this was "fairly typical" customer activity for the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
"And yes, they are Christmas shopping," Jen Reed said.
Becky McAdams of Becky's Household Consignments in the Uptown Mall said she, too, noticed people commenting throughout Saturday that they were honoring the request to support small businesses.
"These last two days have been much better than last year. I had one woman come back three times today to buy presents," McAdams said.
Even the Octopus Garden, an eclectic incense inspired retail institution in Richland that has little to offer in Yuletide trim, experienced a surge in customers Saturday.
"Today we had quite a few people come in and mention it was Small Business Saturday," said store owner Gus Sako.
Sako, who started the business in 1976, said he always sees an increase in business during the Thanksgiving weekend from out-of-towners who combine a trip to his store with visiting friends and relatives on the holiday.
The Christmas rush, as it were, won't come until mid-December, after people have purchased their electronic gadgets and are looking for "something fun, like robot and flying saucer ornaments," he said.
Back at Minnie Jane's, the Reeds reported their best sale of Saturday being $75 for a 1938 typewriter to a 12-year-old old girl who wanted it for typing letters.
"The parents had been shopping for one for three weeks. Their daughter had written an essay about the lost art of letter-writing," Jen Reed said.
People kept drifting into the Reeds' store, asking for things not likely to be found in a larger chain or department store.
One young man, sporting a goatee and an old-fashioned driving cap, asked John Reed to let him know if they came across an old-style double-edge razor.
Customer service is the key, and keeps customers coming back, said Dorothy DeMeyer, proprietor of Time Was, a store featuring fine to funky vintage fashions.
DeMeyer said Small Business Saturday is a good thing, but Richland's Uptown Mall already is being rediscovered.
"We've got 80 stores here and are one of the best-kept secrets," DeMeyer said.
"Our customers know us and the word is getting out," she added.