‘I think Cullman has become a destination shopping place’

Small business owners report success, community support amid challenging times

White Willow is located at 302 First Ave. SE in Cullman. (Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune)

Updated 12-2-20 at 10:32 p.m. Whoopsy Daisy has moved to 320 First Ave. SE, Cullman.

CULLMAN, Ala. – This year has been a tough year for small businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but this past weekend was Small Business Saturday, a national event which began in 2010 and is held annually the Saturday after Thanksgiving. For the Alabama small business owner, that meant competing with the Iron Bowl this year. The Tribune talked to several local small business owners to see how holiday shoppers responded.

At Three Pears, Owner Carrie Taylor said she is pleased so far with the level of business she has seen this holiday season.

“We have been doing really well,” she said. “Black Friday was awesome and then Small Business Saturday, it was good. With COVID, it’s just different anyway so we all have to adjust to that, but as far as business and people coming in, I thought it was good.”

Taylor said when the Iron Bowl began, the shopping stopped.

She laughed, “That’s just normal.”

White Willow Owner Libby Crider said of Small Business Saturday, “It’s something we are proud of, being a small business, but I think it was mostly Christmas. I feel like most of the things we sold this weekend were Christmas items. Thanksgiving was over and people were ready to get the Christmas tree up. That’s been kind of our main focus lately.”

Has COVID caused people to be more aware of the importance of shopping local?

Answered Taylor, “I do believe that people have made an effort to shop local just to help the small business. I think sometimes they have gone online and not thought that much about it, but now I have customers come in and say, ‘I want to shop local and I want to support our community.’”

Taylor said that the Cullman community has been wonderful and has “stepped up to make sure we are all still here.”

Shawn Schiehl, owner of boutique Whoopsy Daisy, said, “I have a clientele that’s kept me in business all these years, so thank goodness for them. I have received new customers since I have been here- men who come in after eating at Moe’s to buy gifts for their wives.”

Because of the pandemic, Schiehl said, she has had to adapt, creating the Whoopsy Daisy Instagram page.

“I noticed a lot of people posting about shopping local and punching that,” she said. “Maybe people realize or maybe they hadn’t thought about this being our living. I think it has made more people aware.”

“We have been extremely busy since April,” Crider shared. “I feel like a lot of people are at home; they have just wanted to update their home because they are there all the time.”

Although she appreciates the effort put into creating Small Business Saturday, Taylor believes there could be improvements to the idea, saying, “Maybe if we could make it a little more special instead of lumping it in with Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I wish we could have a more special day.”

Crider said her home decor business would have been busy Saturday regardless of the designation of Small Business Saturday, sharing, “It was a steady Saturday despite the Iron Bowl going on. It really was more people just getting what they needed instead of supporting Small Business Saturday. Luckily for us, we have had that support this whole time.”

Today, more than ever, people are making online purchases for many of the everyday things they need, as well as for holiday gifts. To remain competitive, Three Pears, although it does not have a website, offers price matching.

Taylor explained, “You can always call us and order. All of our boots and shoes, I try to keep up with what’s on sale on Amazon and other websites and honor that. I would rather you come here and purchase and get the same deal than to go on there and purchase. I will price match anybody!” 

Many of small business owners The Cullman Tribune spoke with said they feel that Cullman has become a shopping destination for many out-of-town shoppers.

“I want to be different and special and set apart. I am thankful for what we have. I think we are pulling people this way,” said Taylor. “Southern Accents Architectural Antiques is here, Busy Bee and Emily who has Rattles and Rhymes. 412 (Public House) has been awesome for us. People eat and walk here so that’s also been great and vice-versa. People come in from out of town to shop and they ask where they should eat. Go to 412 or All Steak.”

Crider said that White Willow does a lot of “lake business,” adding, “The real estate market has been crazy and most of those people are from out of town and new to the community. They need a local person, and our realtors are great, and they will send them to us.”

Crider said she refers people to other local shops when they ask for great places to shop or eat.

“We send them around,” she said. “We will send them to the Warehouse District, Southern Accents, Three Pears. I think Cullman has become a destination shopping place with all our cute little shops and restaurants.”

Three Pears, located at located at 118 Fifth St. SE in Cullman, has shoes, boots, clothing, accessories, candles and gift cards that never expire. Find out more at www.facebook.com/Three-Pears-267019902761/.

Schiehl posts new items each day on Whoopsy Daisy’s Instagram page at www.instagram.com/whoopsy_daisy_boutique. Although she doesn’t have a website, Schiehl asks customers to leave comments or send messages and items can be delivered. The boutique is located at 320 First Ave. SE, Cullman.

White Willow is located at 302 First Ave. SE in Cullman. Find out more at www.instagram.com/whitewillow_cullman or www.whitewillowcullman.com.

Copyright 2020 Humble Roots, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Three Pears is located at located at 118 Fifth St. SE in Cullman. (Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune)