Brunch & Browse draws locals, visitors downtown

Chris Herbert | Valdosta Daily TimesShirley Gibson perused jewelry at Kaleiscope Gallery & Emporium Saturday morning.

VALDOSTA – Cindi Hardy noticed the increased foot traffic in her store Saturday.

Hardy, the owner of Livi & Company, said she was excited about all the customers with plastic cups in her store.

"We love it," Hardy said. "We're in for everything Valdosta does downtown."

The City of Valdosta held its first-ever Brunch & Browse event downtown to celebrate Small Business Saturday. Residents were able to shop and drink from 10 a.m.-1 p.m after purchasing a $20 ticket.

One ticket bought an attendee a drink to sip while shopping, a "Shop Small" tote bag and a card with the names and locations of the nine participating businesses. Shoppers who visited all nine stores got the chance to win a raffle.

The raffle incentivized shoppers to check out every shop and maybe spend a little more.

"I've bought at least one thing at each stop," Michelle Sawyer said.

The idea also helped introduce folks to stores downtown.

"It's a good idea because even if they don't buy anything, maybe they'll come back," Hardy said.

The raffle created a competitive spirit, even if the prize remained unknown to participants.

"It's unclear what we're going to win, but we want it," Elly Klaus said.

Her first time coming to a Small Business Saturday event, Klaus said she would have stayed home Saturday if there was no event.

For out-of-towners such as the Van Dykes, it was an opportunity to see more of the city. Theresa and Tim Van Dyke, hailing from Elyria, Ohio, spent Thanksgiving with their son and his fiancee.

Elyria has begun to have similar events for local businesses, and the couple wanted to support Valdosta.

"(Elyria is) just starting up ... a wine and chocolate walk where each store has a little glass of wine and your favorite type of chocolate, and it's all small businesses like this," Theresa Van Dyke said.

Having visited eight of the nine stores, their favorite purchase was a cardinal ornament Tim bought for his mom from The Flower Gallery.

"My mother's into cardinals," Tim Van Dyke said. "She's 89 years old."

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