Small Business Saturday big on Detroit's Avenue of Fashion

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — A slight drizzle wasn't enough to keep Sybil Carter from shopping on the city's Avenue of Fashion during Small Business Saturday.

Carter, of Detroit, was on the hunt for a holiday dress for her 2-year-old daughter Arya, so she stopped in Dcreated Boutique, which sells handmade organic baby clothes.

"I've purchased from here before and I like the style — plus, I just prefer natural products," Carter said. "Also, it's important to support businesses in the neighborhood."

Small Business Saturday was created by American Express in 2010 as a counterpart to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which focus on big-box retail and online commerce, respectively. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, the 30.2 million small businesses in the United States represent 99.9 percent of the nation's companies, employing 47.5 percent of American employees.

Matilda Harry, owner of  MohoStyle, prepares her rack of colorful dresses at a pop-up store along the Avenue of Fashion for Small Business Saturday on Livernois Avenue.

Amid a strong economy, optimism is high among small-business owners, according to TD Bank’s annual Small Business Survey in August. The poll found 53 percent of small businesses planned to grow in 2018, up from 46 percent in 2017; while the number of small business owners planning to recruit more staff increased from 9 percent to 22 percent during the same period.

Dcreated Boutique is on the Avenue of Fashion on Livernois near Outer Drive on Detroit's west side, an area teeming with small shops.

"I've been here four years, and I love it," said Dcreated Boutique owner Brianna Williams. "Small Business Saturday is my best day of the year."

Williams said she accidentally came to create children's clothes that are made from cotton that hasn't been sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals.

"When my daughter was born, she had an itch, and that's how I found out about organic fabric," she said. "I always tell people: Even if you can't afford an entire organic wardrobe, at least get one sleeper, since that's what the baby will spend the most time wearing."

Up the street from Dcreated Boutique, at the Art in Motion ceramic studio and gallery, Kay Willingham was setting up shop Saturday, preparing for what she hoped would be a influx of foot traffic.

"I think people want to support the neighborhood, small businesses and minority businesses," she said. "And we all support each other. The Detroit Economic Growth Corp. has done a great program to revive this area."

Kay Willingham, owner of Art in Motion, shows her pride in promoting Small Business Saturday along the Avenue of Fashion on Livernois Avenue near 7 Mile Road on November 24, 2018

Not all the entrepreneurs on the Avenue of Fashion were from Detroit. Two Toronto-based dressmakers — Mahostyle and Ace Kouture — set up shop in the Livernois Pop-Up Shop, a storefront that leases space to small businesses.

"This is our first Small Business Saturday event," said Mahostyle owner Matilda Henry, who said she works in concert with Ace Kouture's owner. "We help each other out; I pull a crowd, she pulls a crowd, and we both benefit."

U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield, was among the shoppers on the Avenue of Fashion on Saturday. It was one of several stops on her itinerary.

"Small business is the engine that drives our economy," said Lawrence as she shopped for clothes in Simply Casual store on Livernois. "Often during the holidays, people go to the bigger stores, or the malls. But I encourage people to not forget about our small businesses."

Carter said small shops offer better service than larger companies.

"At the big-box stores, sometimes they'll welcome you, and sometimes they won't," she said. "But when you want that personal touch, go to a small business."
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