For Knoxville’s small business owners, each product tells a hometown story

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Area shops preparing shelves for Small Business Saturday

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Behind every small business is a story. In Downtown Knoxville, local businesses are gearing up for what is usually the busiest time of the year.

This year has been tougher than most for businesses, especially the smaller ones. Owners are having to adapt and figure out how to keep their doors open all while keeping both employees and customers safe. Small Business Saturday is a chance to give back to those stores and our community.

For Knoxville Soap Candles and Gifts owner, Jodi Eades, the products in her store are more than just products. They’re stories of the people who create them.

“We have nurses who make the candles, teachers who make the jewelry, we have six soap makers, we have potters, we have glass blowers, we have books, we have photography, we have a little bit of everything,” according to Eades.

“We have forty local artisans in our shop, many are exclusive to the shop for over a decade,” said Eades. “We have nurses who make the candles, teachers who make the jewelry, we have six soap makers, we have potters, we have glass blowers, we have books, we have photography, we have a little bit of everything.”

Eades says that most of her vendors came to her during the Great Recession of 2008. She says people came to her needing a space to sell their items and that’s something she keeps close to her heart.

“I’ve never been to market,” said Eades, “I’m extremely blessed.”

Eades tells us this year was tough but she was lucky to be able to still do business when non-essential businesses were shut down. She offered curbside orders and was able to provide hand sanitizer, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and other cleaning items to her customers through that time. The store is now back to in-person service, but Eades says safety is still top of mind.

“We provide a safe environment with hand sanitizer, masks of course, social distancing and there is never more than 10 people in here so people feel very comfortable,” said Eades.

That message is echoed a few streets down at Union Avenue Books. The bookstore is allowing customers to browse in-person but on a more restrictive basis, appointment only.

Customers are allowed to call ahead and book a time to pick-up their favorite books, games, or other items.

Chelsea Bauer who is a bookseller and buyer at the shop says that their customers could not be any more supportive.

“First of all people have been so supportive since we shutdown, said Eades, “We did curbside initially and shipping and then in June we started doing appointments and that’s what we are still doing, we are so thankful.”

Union Ave. Books is also benefitting from COVID-19 in a way that may not have been top priority before. Their website is in the middle of a massive upgrade. All inventory in the store that is available for in-person pickup or online ordering is being uploaded allowing them to be more efficient with online sales.

Save the date: Small Business Saturday

This Saturday, Nov. 28 both Union Ave. and Knoxville Gifts are offering big sales to give back to their customers.

Union Avenue Books will have a sidewalk sale right outside their store offering up to 75% off of merchandise all while being COVID-19 safe with masks, hand sanitizer and of course, outdoors.

Knoxville Soap Candles and Gifts is offering 20% off of Christmas items in store on Black Friday, then extending that 20% discount to the entire store on Saturday in a Customer Appreciation Sale to show the community their gratitude during these trying times.

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