COLUMBIA CITY — Sales were spirited Saturday as hundreds of eager shoppers got a solid start on holiday shopping. Local small businesses marked Shop Small Saturday with sales and specials — and were met with success.

“Sales were great and we had over 200 people walk through the shop,” said Chris David, owner of Twisted Tailfins Aquatics in downtown Columbia City. “Not everyone was buying, but there were lots of questions and, I feel, future sales.”

The Whitley County Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center welcomed hundreds of people over the weekend, including shoppers on Saturday, offering small business owners vendor spaces, free of charge, in their office.

“From our vantage point during Shop Small Saturday, we saw a steady stream of smiling, seemingly excited shoppers visiting businesses in our downtown — some of them for the first time,” said Jennifer Romano, executive director of the Whitley County Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center. “Supporting our local businesses, now for holiday shopping and also throughout the year, is so important. Dollars spent in our locally owned businesses contributes to local job creation, keeps tax dollars here, supports investment in our community and enables our community’s business owners to maintain their ability to support local projects, nonprofits and neighborhoods.”

Fortunately, the message about the importance of shopping local seems to be well-received in the community.

“Small Business Saturday was our most successful day to date,” said Annette Shively, owner of A. Shively & Co., a Whitley County boutique. “The excitement for shopping local in Columbia City was evident in the high volume of traffic that came thru our doors. Both Black Friday and SBS were so busy that it’s obvious that Whitley County residents do want to shop local and support small business.”

“Making even small purchases in our local restaurants, stores and boutiques goes a long way toward improving and building up our community,” Romano added.