Small businesses stealing shopping spotlight in Florence - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Small businesses stealing shopping spotlight in Florence

 FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Holiday shopping is in full swing in Florence and small businesses are looking to attract  new customers to come back year-round.

"There is a movement away from the big mall atmosphere into the small town atmosphere," said Kate Walker, owner of Mainstream Boutique.

Mainstream Boutique offered special Black Friday deals and even shoppers who don't enjoy the busy shopping day came out to support the store that's been open since December 2013 on West Evans St.

"Keep the money in Florence," said Julie Parker, who shopped at Mainstream Boutique Friday. "That's the bottom line. Keep it here. Keep the economy growing and we're trying to revitalize downtown and this is just one way to do it."

Walker said people are shifting away from big box stores because local businesses offer more personalized customer service.

"I'm really proud of my staff," Walker said. "They're wonderful and do a great job taking care of our customers every day, but specifically during the holidays, I think it's nice to have that extra special touch."

Mainstream Boutique and other small businesses in Florence need busy stores all the time, so Walker is constantly promoting her business.

"We like to coordinate with the downtown events and stay open later when there's something downtown," she said. "That's been very successful for us."

There's also a hashtag, #GoFlo, launched in May with the goal of bringing more attention to small businesses in Florence for the entire year. People can use the hashtag on social media sites when they're shopping.

"What I've seen is that I've found a lot of small businesses that I didn't know existed because they were using it," said Kevin Barron, creator of the #GoFlo campaign.

#GoFlo Fridays keep the trend going by having a special day once a month to remind people to shop local. The next #GoFlo Friday is December 5.

"We encourage people to post photos with the little GoFlo hashtag," Barron said. "Create their own little creative version of it. We've had Southern Hops write GoFlo out of hops. We've had folks at Lula's do it out of coffee beans."

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