The cold, rainy streets of Oxford were empty last Saturday afternoon, but inside You’re Fired it was busy, welcoming and warm. Oxford families and friends stopped in to unwind and paint pottery together over Thanksgiving break.
Near the front door, Lisa Leishman, the owner of You’re Fired for the past 11 years, helped a young customer pick the right paintbrush. She said people have been coming to her shop on the Saturday after Thanksgiving for years.
“It’s just traditional that this is what they’ve done for years,” she said. “They always come and make their gifts.”
This shopping holiday, known as Small Business Saturday, is one of the only times the shop does a half-priced studio fee on a weekend, making it popular among families on break from work and school.
Small Business Saturday, which falls between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the two largest shopping holidays in the U.S., aims to encourage shoppers to buy from locally-owned stores instead of large retailers and e-commerce websites.
Leishman thinks Small Business Saturday can also be a unique way for people to spend time with their families during such a big shopping weekend.
“I think they’re tired of going out to bigger areas and enjoy the small vibe and us helping them one-on-one,” she said. “We love that you can have any age of customer in here, hanging out together. You can have a college student, a high school student, a baby, a grandma. Everybody all together.”
Across the street from You’re Fired at BikeWise, the scene was quieter. But Doug Hamilton, BikeWise’s owner, was hard at work repairing bicycles behind the counter. Although he thinks the small business community in Oxford is “challenging more so than ever,” he’s still enthusiastic about his bike shop.
Hamilton has owned BikeWise since 2003 and has been around long enough to see local businesses in Oxford change. He remembers a time where there were many more small local businesses in town relying on patronage from students.
Before online shopping was so popular, Hamilton said the shop would sell nearly 1,000 bikes during the back-to-school season. But as more students began to choose to shop online, small businesses struggled.
“Students won’t support them because they tend to prefer to shop online,” Hamilton said. This is why he aims to give local cyclists what they can’t find online: repair expertise and a close customer-to-business relationship.
“They’ll drive an hour to get up here because they want someone with experience,” he said.
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Like You’re Fired, BikeWise has customers that have been coming back for many years because of the close relationship and trust they have with the business. This is why Hamilton said his favorite part of owning a small repair shop is “being in service of my fellow humans.”
Although shopping is moving to online platforms, Uptown business owners know their unique services and relationships are important to the community.
“The internet’s great at selling you things,” Hamilton said. “But it doesn’t do a very good job of fixing things.”