First time small businesses gear up for holiday season

Starting with Small Business Saturday, Raleigh stores hope to make the sell of shop local

Madeline Gray—North State Journal
Owner Annette Henson stands in her store Greenway Beer and Wine in North Raleigh on Tuesday

RALEIGH — From coming up with styles to add some holiday cheer to the home to adding the perfect wine to go with the Christmas ham, small businesses are preparing for the holiday season — and some for the first time.Kelly Wohlgenant, owner of Retro Modern Furnishings, Annette Henson, owner of Greenway Beer & Wine, and Chris Cimino, CEO of Lavish Designs & Properties, are approaching their first holiday season as small businesses in Raleigh by kicking off with Small Business Saturday.Wohlgenant said she hopes people will include small businesses for their post-Thanksgiving shopping.”Black Friday is a big deal,” Wohlgenant said. “From what I’ve heard it’s mostly big box stores that are where people shop. It’s kind of nice there is a time that small businesses are recognized.”She added shopping at Retro Modern Furnishing not only helps her, but also artisans across the state that her store buys furniture from.”Almost everything in our store if it’s not vintage it’s just about handmade,” Wohlgenant said. “We do have lots of local products made in North Carolina. I think that is one thing that makes us different than a big box store. You can help support local makers and artisans while shopping with us.”For Cimino, he sees shopping at his small business, Lavish, which specializes in home decor, as a “gift that keeps giving.””You are supporting a whole community,” Cimino said. “We want everyone to have a good experience, but even more so if we’re helping a neighbor or a friend.”He said his retail store will offer items for gift-giving and is concentrating on what is popular for consumers.”We are looking at suppliers to see what some of the name brands we carry what they have, what they are doing special for the holidays, and capitalizing on that we have name brand stuff that is recognizable for our customers to give as gifts as well,” Cimino said.Henson’s business, Greenway Beer & Wine, which opened in October, will concentrate fully on what the customer wants.”I want what they want”, Henson said. “I just want what my customers want.”She said she has had wine tastings with distributors to find the best wines to go with turkey and ham.”For the holidays, it is essentially budget-friendly wines that go with lighter food,” Henson said. “For Thanksgiving, you pair everything with turkey. Christmas you go for more ham, but it still doesn’t have to be a big wine or expensive to go well.”Henson added some people have stopped in her bottle shop to ask for help buying a gift for a beer lover.”People will say they have this friend, cousin or son who is really into beer and they want to surprise them with a really good gift, will you just pick me out six beers that are unique and different, so they can just sample them all,” Henson said. “It’s very common to get people in here who don’t know what they want and that’s buying it for someone else, because they want to show their interest in the topic.”