The weekend after Thanksgiving has been secured as Shop Small Saturday and marks the beginning of the “holiday hustle and bustle.” Amanda Christopherson and Chrystal Rothenberger are sure they can help you cross some people off your list.
Two award-winning boutiques reside in Brandon, a town of approximately 10,000. Beautique and The Paisley Pod are women-owned businesses that are thriving because of the tenacity of an entrepreneur and community support shown through shopping local.
Because The Paisley Pod is mobile, it is able to join forces with Gypsy Trading Company and Beautique, located just a few blocks north of our branch on Splitrock Boulevard. “We want to give our customers a fun shopping experience on Saturday, all in one spot,” said Christopherson. Rothenberger says this wouldn’t be possible without the tight-knit, small business community that’s formed in Brandon in the last five to 10 years.
Along with many retailers, First National Bank is taking part in the excitement. It is tradition for our Brandon branch to invite Santa to the Bank. “You don’t have to be a customer,” said Val Lemkau, branch manager. “Anyone living or visiting Brandon is more than welcome.”
Before assuming the role of branch manager in Brandon, Lemkau managed other branch locations. “But, I’ve still taken my kids the last two years to Santa in Brandon. It’s exciting to see their faces light up as they hand him their lists.”
The Bank lobby will be open from 10 a.m.–12 p.m. to accommodate Santa, with the drive-up being open normal hours from 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
“He’s a generous guy and enjoys visiting the Bank every year,” said Lemkau. “We have a great community, so it really doesn’t take much to convince him.”
Rothenberger, former branch manager, says Shop Small Saturday with Santa at the Bank was one of her favorite events of the year. “I was manager for four years but had been with the Bank for 10,” said Rothenberger. “This event is a great way for people to bring their littles, enjoy some treats, and take advantage of a photo opportunity with Santa in front of a beautiful tree.” Rothenberger now owns and operates The Paisley Pod full-time. “You can feel a certain energy in the air. The community has a lot of different sales and events that day.”
Christopherson, owner of Beautique, says the support comes full-circle in Brandon. “The citizens of Brandon truly love to ‘Buy Brandon’ and support all of the businesses here. And, what really matters to us is our customers; we’ve never lost focus of that.”
“Shop Small Saturday has been a great day for us for years. It’s our biggest shopping day, which just shows how important the ‘Shop Small’ movement is in keeping the ‘mom and pop’ shops going strong,” said Christopherson.
According to The 2016 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, there are more than 11,000,000 women-owned firms in the United States. Furthermore, these women-owned firms can be found in every single sector of the economy.
2017 has been a big year for Beautique and The Paisley Pod. “We won the 2017 Boutique Award for Best Mobile Boutique in South Dakota,” said Rothenberger. “It’s a pretty cool feeling to be nominated and chosen among all the boutiques I look up to!”
Christopherson had some success of her own, winning Best South Dakota Storefront Boutique of the Year and securing the runner-up spot for Best Global Boutique. “We were in the top 5 in that category out of more than 4,000 other boutiques worldwide. That’s been huge, and we’re really proud of that!”
“First National loves to support and encourage relationships with small businesses like Beautique and The Paisley Pod. We have several products and services to meet their needs, whether it be merchant processing, debit cards, a loan, or online banking,” said Lemkau.
Lemkau likes to encourage her customers to set up an automatic transfer to a savings account to help save money and budget for Christmas shopping. “The holidays can be a stressful time for some people.”
“First National Bank has been with me from the beginning, and I look forward to working with them to expand this year,” said Christopherson.
“The Bank was a great place to work. They have such a strong culture there and truly value family and community. You can’t say that about every company, which is why it was a difficult decision to walk away,” said Rothenberger. “I just knew if I wanted to put my all into The Paisley Pod, that’s what needed to happen. I’m fortunate to still be working with First National on a business level.”
Rothenberger and Christopherson both agree that being a business owner is hard work and involves taking a lot of risks.
“Everything depends on you, and that can be kind of scary,” said Rothenberger. “But, everything you do is also a learning opportunity.”
Mark Slade, regional director of the South Dakota Small Business Development Center, said many small businesses have faced adversity in the last decade. “Over the past 10 years, small business owners have encountered great challenges such as the recession, increased competition from online sales, and uncertainty due to changing Federal regulations. They have shown their resilience and innovativeness to meet these obstacles, and some have even turned them into opportunity, especially with regards to e-commerce.”
Both female entrepreneurs have no regrets on taking a leap of faith.
“A few years ago, I took a risk and have continued to take risks to follow this crazy dream of mine. I’m so blessed that it has worked in my favor, but it’s hard work that makes that happen, and I love that I get to help women feel beautiful every day,” said Christopherson.
You can connect with Beautique and The Paisley Pod through their websites and on social.