PAIA - Drawn by sales, promotions and the chance to shop for unusual offerings, some residents and visitors bypassed malls and large chain stores, turning out to shop locally in Paia on Small Business Saturday.
"That's why I'm here," said Kuau resident Helen Lerman, as she browsed the selection of clothing, jewelry and hats at Jaggers. "I thought I'd come support Paia."
By the time she reached the store on Hana Highway, Lerman had already scored bargains at several other Paia stores.
Kuau resident Helen Lerman looks at a Panama hat with Jaggers co-owner Becky Kikumoto on Saturday afternoon. The store, in its 28th year, was among Paia businesses offering sales as part of the town’s “Holiday in Paradise” Small Business Saturday.
The Maui News / LILA FUJIMOTO photo
Sascha Quillan, a sales associate at Biasa Rose Boutique, adjusts a Christmas tree in the Paia store Saturday. The 21-year-old business was among those offering discounts and refreshments as part of Paia’s Small Business Saturday event.
The Maui News / LILA FUJIMOTO photo
Some businesses offered sales on top of usual kamaaina discounts, displaying "Holiday in Paradise" signs on storefronts to call attention to special Small Business Saturday deals.
In 2010, American Express came up with the idea of designating the day after Black Friday to promote small business. The credit card company offered a $25 credit to customers who charged $25 or more at a qualifying small businesses Saturday.
In Paia, merchants were marking the day with specials from noon to 7 p.m.
On Saturday morning, before the event officially began, Stacey Sullivan said she had already seen more customers than in the previous two days at Love the Beach, which specializes in custom swimsuits.
"Yesterday was really slow because I think people were going to the big-box stores," said Sullivan, co-owner of Love the Beach with Lucinda Baughen. "I've already had good business this morning."
She said the Baldwin Avenue store has had its busiest fall in about five years, with customers buying jewelry, hats and other clothing along with swimsuits. For Christmas, some people are buying gift certificates for custom swimsuits that are made in the store within about two weeks, she said.
At Maui Crafts Guild, glass artist Joshua Cox and ceramics artist Jeff Johnson were seeing many people in the store take advantage of the 10 percent weekend discount that started Friday and continues through today.
"It's been steady," Cox said. "There's a lot more foot traffic."
Some shoppers, like Melanie Briggs and her 3-year-old son, Elliot, were on their way to the first Paia Ukulele Festival in town. They stopped at Jaggers to buy two hats, taking advantage of the store's 10 percent discount Saturday on hats and mens and womens aloha shirts.
The last couple of years have been good ones for the 28-year-old business, said Jaggers co-owner Becky Kikumoto.
"There's more people in town," she said, with the rise in tourism. "People really like this town. It's small, it's still a little quaint."
That's what drew Michigan resident Chris Son and his wife, Karen, to the town Saturday. They had passed through Paia after spending some of their vacation in Hana. "My wife wanted to come back to shop," he said. "You'll see more unique things."
Karen Son said she was looking for gifts. "I'm sure I'll find something," she said.
San Diego resident Jody Pyatt said she read about the Small Business Saturday event in Paia and decided to head over to show her support.
"We live in a community where we don't want the small businesses to go under," she said while making a purchase at Biasa Rose Boutique.
"We've had a busy morning," said owner Patti Pottorff, who made fresh lemonade and set out cookies for customers.
"It's a great idea, just to be different from Black Friday," said sales associate Sascha Quillan. "People seem to appreciate it."
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.