Show your love for McGregor and Marquette's small businesses

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

The communities of McGregor and Marquette encourage residents and visitors alike to support small, local businesses as they shop for gifts this holiday season—beginning with Small Business Saturday, Nov. 26.

Twenty-five businesses—ranging from retail stores and salons to bars and restaurants—will participate in a “Shop Small: McGregor and Marquette” event on Saturday, offering activities, refreshments and special shopping deals. The event will start at 9 a.m. and run through 1 p.m., or later.

The Small Business Saturday concept was first launched in 2010 by American Express, as an alternative to the major holiday shopping days following Thanksgiving—Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

“McGregor and Marquette started making a bigger deal out of it the last two years,” said Katie Ruff, owner of By the Spoonful in McGregor and an organizer of the community shop small event. “Before, people would come to town to shop small, but it wasn’t a huge ‘hoorah’ event.” 

Last year, Ruff said, organizers really wanted businesses to get on the same page, both by being open for Small Business Saturday and by offering promotions. By doing so, she added, they hoped to brand McGregor and Marquette as a holiday shopping destination, a place people would look to year-to-year to purchase gifts.

The idea has caught on; ten more businesses than last year have agreed to join. And shoppers will be rewarded.

“This year is even bigger,” Ruff commented. “We’re trying to make it extra special for customers.”

One of the day’s highlights will be the opportunity to take part in the shop small punch card drawing. To do so, shoppers can pick up a punch card at any participating business. Collect punches by making purchases at any of those businesses. The more punches you collect, the more chances you will have to win (3 punches for 1 entry, 5 punches for 2 entries and 7 punches for 3 entries). Once you’ve finished shopping, leave the punch card at the last business you visit, to be placed in the drawing. The drawing will be held Monday, Nov. 28, at 9 a.m.

“It’s for all customer bases,” Ruff explained. “You can still participate even if you don’t go into all of the retail shops.”

The kid’s activities were also amped up this year, Ruff shared.

From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., families can stop by Backwoods Bar and Grill in McGregor to visit Santa and receive a free goodie bag courtesy of the city of McGregor. During that time, kids can also enjoy crafts, like decorating cookies; coloring; and making ornaments, sun catchers and paper chains.

In addition, free babysitting of children 5 and up will be available at Backwoods, as will gift wrapping by the McGregor Clan Lions Club.

“If you’re looking for something to do with the whole family, this will be fun,” Ruff said. “It really makes it more family-oriented, when you can bring the kids.”

By shopping small, Ruff said people can find a variety of unique items—from wine, clothing, books and jewelry to foods, home decor, antiques and spa treatments—in a more relaxed environment.

“Shopping for Christmas doesn’t have to mean going to big box stores,” she said. “[Local shops] offer more unique and quality products and experiences. That’s what people enjoy, and that’s what shopping local is. You’re forming a connection.”

Shopping local also supports the local economy and the businesses that give back to the community, she added. 

This year, Ruff noted, it’s important to highlight the growth the cities’ business community has seen. Since last Christmas, four new businesses—Stevie Gene’s North Street Market in Marquette, and McGregor Mercantile, Backwoods Bar and Grill and Steve’s Silver Dollar in McGregor—have opened. 

They’re all open year-round, as are many other McGregor and Marquette businesses, Ruff said.

“We’re a seasonal place, and there’s a large notion that McGregor and Marquette shut down after October,” she said, “but it’s important to showcase that many businesses are open year round. A lot stay open year-round, with reduced hours, or stay open through Christmas with holiday shopping in mind.” 

“So, yes, shop small on Saturday,” Ruff continued, “but you should shop small all year. And, if you do shop small, shop in McGregor and Marquette. Small Business Saturday is just an extra day to show your love for all the local businesses.”

For more information, find the “Shop Small: McGregor and Marquette, Iowa” event page on Facebook.

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