Tuscaloosa shops gear up for Iron Bowl traffic on small business Saturday

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — It’s going to be a big weekend for Tuscaloosa businesses. Between the Iron Bowl and a huge shopping weekend, many small businesses are seeing a boost.

The Iron Bowl falls on the same day as “Small Business Saturday,” a national movement which encourages people to shop and support their local stores during the big bargain weekend following Thanksgiving.

For a lot of small businesses in Alabama, crowds could be small during the big game. In Tuscaloosa, though, stores are already seeing a surge in customers, both Tuscaloosa residents and people from out of town, arriving early for the Iron Bowl.

“The atmosphere in the town completely changes,” said Emily Trice, who works at Effie’s. “Because you not only have people coming in for the holiday, but all the additional people coming in for the game, getting hyped up for the biggest rivalry in college football, so it just brings a lot of business to town, including us, so we like to have fun with that.”

Small business owners say local support is important as they go into the holiday season. While many bargain hunters flock to the big box stores, small shops depend on loyal customers to stay in the black and to continue their local footprint.

“It’s been really great that customers are aware, and it’s also really important, because these are the businesses that put money back into the community,” said Jill Smelley with Perfect Touch, a retailer that sells women’s clothing and jewelry. “It’s not like a big department stores, we don’t know where that money is going, but here you know it’s going back to Tuscaloosa.”

Many of the stores say they will continue running special deals throughout the holiday weekend, hoping to draw in more crowds before and after the Iron Bowl.

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