MOUNT VERNON — The streets of downtown Mount Vernon were busier than usual Saturday as shoppers browsed through the stores as part of Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Saturday is a national event that encourages shoppers to spend their money locally. The Mount Vernon Downtown Association hosted the local event.

Association Executive Director Ellen Gamson said the event helps not just keep money in the community, but connects people face to face with small business owners.

“It’s the idea that small businesses have more authenticity to offer, personal connection and experience,” she said.

Holiday sales are also critical to the cash flow of many small businesses, Gamson said.

Kenneth and Robert McLaughlin, who opened the In Good Spirit gift shop in November on First Street, said they are relying on the holiday season — and events such as Small Business Saturday — to introduce shoppers to their business.

“A lot of feedback from customers is that they’re surprised to see new stores, and really happy to see downtown come back with new interesting retail,” Kenneth McLaughlin said.

At another new store on First Street, Shop Habibi, which sells gifts from international artisans, Julie Orkiolla of Mount Vernon said she attended the event to support local businesses.

“Just the local feel and getting to know people,” she said. “I like to be part of the community.”

— Reporter Jacqueline Allison:, 360-416-2145, Twitter: @Jacqueline_SVH

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