BENTON, Ark. — Owning a small business is no easy feat. Competing with big box stores is hard enough, but the pandemic made it even harder.
For Robyn Cisar, owner of Meditating Market in Benton, she knows that first hand – and so does her family.
"My kids are like growing up in this store, so they're here all the time," she said. "I know the pandemic hit tons of small businesses really hard, and some of them, sadly, had to close their doors. I know a lot of staples, like community staples, had to close their doors."
But Saturday was a chance to make sure her family doesn't have to experience those same hardships.
"It's Small Business Saturday, or shop small Saturday," Cisar said. "So we're really encouraging people to come out and support local businesses."
All over central Arkansas, businesses offered deals and welcomed customers in as they ditched the big box stores and shopped local.
From Benton to North Little Rock, businesses are enjoying the boom.
"I teared up this morning getting ready for today," Stacey Bowers, owner of Bang-Up Betty in the Argenta Arts District, said. "Small Business Saturday is just, it's the light of my year when everyone I know comes in and said hey and when you have a small business, it's just nice today to feel the love from everyone."
Bowers said last year was a struggle, and the pandemic even forced her to have to shut down her storefront.
"Everyone's talking about the supply chain, but it's hitting small businesses too, and so we've sort of got that fear in the back of our minds," she said. "It's good that people are really doing the best they can to get out and support us, despite all that."
But this is a bounce back year for them. Plenty of people were out shopping for things you'd only find in stores like this – local, handmade goods.
Back in Benton, Cisar said today doesn't just help those behind the registers, but the ones they're supporting too.
"You're helping a small business like us. You're helping us buy diapers for our kids. You're helping us pay tuition for schools and things," Cisar said. "So it really makes a difference for each individual family, and just keeping money local."
So while Saturday is labeled 'Small Business Saturday,' Cisar said it should be a mindset for every day as well.
"That $50 purchase may not matter to the CEO of Walmart, but it matters a lot to the CEO of the little mom-and-pop shop next door," she said.