By Cassidy Pate, News Editor
Beltonians took to the streets of downtown Belton and beyond to support local businesses during Small Business Saturday, an annual event created by American Express advocating for small businesses and encouraging community members to do the same for the betterment of the local economy, on Saturday, Nov. 30.
Debbie Lee Connell is one of 85 vendors at Exchange on Central, an antique, vintage and up-cycle retail store located at 216 E Central Avenue in downtown Belton. Owned by David Leigh and his wife Janet Leigh and managed by Brett Baggerly, Connell said that although not all of Exchange on Central’s vendors had Small Business Saturday sales going on, their rational prices make up for it.
“I used to have some sales, but I feel like, like a lot of these vendors do, we mark our things very reasonably; there are things that you can’t find out anymore unless you’re really looking for things,” Connell said.
While the Exchange on Central staff are not paid, they do receive a discounted price on their monthly vendor rent, which is an admirable feature for Connell and her cohorts who are looking to not only sell their own belongings but to also shop each other’s merchandise. With Belton’s fast growth rate, Connell said small businesses are essential for the town’s appeal to its residents and visitors.
“It’s fantastic; the people, you know, this is what’s needed to liven up the downtown in this town, and it’s booming; for the years as old as I am, 68 now, I’ve seen the growth just shoot up, and it’s even vital to these small business owners,” Connell said. “And that’s what you have to do; have new and fresh ideas but yet keep that nostalgia going in your booth and in the stores.”
Sherlyn Ware and Renate Reaves have been friends for ten years and opened Country Cottage (795 E Central Ave in Belton), home to antiques, collectibles and new décor, one month ago. With seven vendors, the owners said they are hoping to expand within the next year, which is what Reaves said she is most looking forward to.
“I think we’re going to outgrow this place next year, so when our lease will be up, we will find something in Belton to move into,” Ware said.
When asked why they wished to open a small business in Belton, Ware’s answer was straightforward.
“Well, Belton’s the place to be,” Ware said.