RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Saturday is the day that small businesses are hoping you'll shop local as part of Small Business Saturday. It's a day that started back in 2010 as a national initiative to support local businesses. The theory is doing so helps small business owners create jobs, boost the local economy, and preserve local neighborhoods.
Small Business Saturday is a day that's proven to be a big boost for many independent businesses, including in Raleigh where 95-percent of the downtown retail shops are independently owned by local entrepreneurs. That includes the House of Swank Clothing located at 315 S. Bloodworth Street. It's an apparel shop that actually started on a whim for co-owner John Pugh.
"I was playing a bunch of blues gigs and things around town, and I thought, 'I need some [merchandise.]' So, I bought a $50 screen printing kit and five shirts in the craft store and I made those, and I had a little suitcase and I sold those, bought 10 more, sold those, bought 20 more, sold those, and it kind of went from there," Pugh explained.
Four years later he and his wife are now selling their North Carolina-themed products in 15 different local boutiques, along with their main location in Raleigh. It's a location where, on any given day, you can find the couple along with their young son Hank.
"We're newly 'mom and pop,'" laughed Pugh's wife, Jessica Robinson. "But yeah, we're a mom-and-pop shop and it's just kind of evolved as something that we like to do, and we're really social and like to be with our friends."
And this couple says they think of their customers as friends because they get to meet so many personally, and they get to bond over the stories much of their merchandise inspires.
"It's all southern, all North Carolina, all the time. We do tons of shirts for Raleigh, Cary, city shirts with themes, just trying to capture what's that town about," said Pugh.
Admittedly, they're a little off the beaten path. But they can be found at lots of major community events. And when it comes to the bulk of their business, they rely heavily on word of mouth and on a huge online following at houseofswankclothing.com, and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Besides supporting real people like themselves, John and Jessica say customers are also supporting the local vendors they buy from.
"Everything we do is all local. We try to buy local products here, everything is either bought here, screen-printed here, or used from other people around here. So all that money just stays in the community," said Pugh.
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