The holiday season had a local flavor as Winter Garden residents celebrated Small Business Saturday, Nov. 27. Plant Street retailers welcomed a seemingly endless stream of shoppers that moved from shop-to-shop and browsed through sidewalk displays. Store isles took time to navigate with some check-out queues stretching to the front door.
“The whole of November has been great for us, we have been busy every single day,” said Tina Butler, owner of Driftwood Market, 46 West Plant Street. Butler, who was barely visible through the mass of shoppers weaving through her store, has something in common with her patrons in that she is also a small business supporter.
“We have a lot of local makers and then we have U.S. based small businesses that we use,” she said of her suppliers. Stocking artisan items sets Butler’s inventory apart from larger retailers, but shipping and supply chain issues remain a challenge. “The supply chain has been hard but we have so much in stock,” she said. “But then the small makers have had issues because they need items from the supply chain to produce their creations.”
“It’s been an issue but I was able to place orders in advance,” said jewelry maker Sonja Jeanette, who is one of Butler’s vendors and had her own a pop-up shop outside Driftwood Market. “It’s mostly been a shipping issue but I’ve been able to work around it, and my customers have been very understanding and supportive.” And the support base extends throughout the downtown area.
“We get lots of references from other businesses,” said Carlos Costa, who was working the register at Writer’s Block Bookstore, 32 West Plant Street. “And if our customers can’t find something, we’ll direct them where they need to go to find what they need.”
“The community is just wonderful and very supportive,” said Diandra Culver, owner of Sweet Dee’s Cupcakery, 21 South Main Street. Culver is coming off what she describes as “a roller coaster of a year.” She opened in November of 2019 and came out of the COVID-19 slump in September of last year. References and tips from neighboring businesses proved helpful when Sweet Dee’s opened, and Culver has even supplied cupcakes for in-store events at Plant Street retailers.
Culver, who is another Driftwood Market supplier, spent some of her Small Business Saturday helping Butler decorate an ornament tree with Sweet Dee’s hot cocoa bombs. But that’s not the only time the two business owners have partnered up. “She made the signs in my store,” said Culver of the wall-mounted menus Butler created for Sweet Dee’s front counter.
“Everyone down here just wants to support one another,” said Culver. “That’s just the magic of Winter Garden.”