Waco Wonderland highlights local small businesses - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

WACO

Waco Wonderland highlights local small businesses

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WACO -

Downtown businesses are seeing extra crowds out as part of the inaugural Waco Wonderland and Small Business Saturday. 

Consumers spent more $5.5 billion dollars during Small Business Saturday last year and city leaders are hoping that some of that money will be spent at local stores downtown.

Owner of Pura Vida Jessica Brown says she's already seen an increase in sells and foot traffic.

"It's usually kind of slow on Saturday just because there's not a lot of people down here but there's constantly been people in our dressing room, at our checkout counter and coming in checking out our sale rack, it's really nice," says brown. 

Business has picked up for many of the stores in downtown Waco. American Express created the day in 2010 as a response to Black Friday in order to spotlight small businesses and encourage people to shop locally.

Spokesperson for the Downtown Development Corporation says shopping at independently owned stores will stimulate the local economy.

"You see the economic impact over and over and over many times when you buy from a local business and we're hoping to remind people of that. Also to remind our small business that we know how much our economy relies on them," says Henderson.

It may not be 12 days of Christmas but it is eight days of the Waco Wonderland centered around a makeshift ice rink with music, food and local vendors.

The city and the Downtown Development Corporation put on the Waco Wonderland event to draw people from the rink just a block over to the small businesses along Austin Avenue.

Chairwoman of the Waco Wonderland Committee Lisa Sheldon says they knew something was needed to attract more people downtown.

"People need to come down and see what great things are going on downtown because there's a lot of stuff going on downtown that if you don't come down here you miss," says Sheldon. "These are mostly local people and they are all out here and they're all committed to making the city grow and be as much as it can be."

Waco resident Jeniffer good says she came out for Waco Wonderland and ended up exploring more of what downtown has to offer.

"We wanted to try out the ice rink that was one of our first things. And then I didn't realize there was going to be vendors out here on Austin Avenue but that's really fun so we just walked up here at 7th street checking out all the little stores and storefronts."

Sheldon, Henderson and other city leaders hope to make Waco Wonderland an annual event that will continue to get bigger and better and lead to a thriving downtown.

"We're really having to work harder to remind people about the personalized service, the unique atmosphere and the kind of real customers care and interaction that you can only get in a small business," says Henderson.

Heritage square was light up with thousands of lights and a 30-foot Christmas tree. The night ended with a fireworks show, a redo of the Fourth of July show that was cut short because of technical difficulties. 

For a complete list of the weeks activities click here.

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