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Holiday shopping begins as downtown SLO fills with bargain hunters

Angel Russell

Stores on the Central Coast are busy as Black Friday kicks off the holiday shopping season.

Black Friday almost looked normal in downtown San Luis Obispo this year, as hundreds of shoppers filled stores hoping to get the best holiday deals.

Business owners, like Amber Karson of Ah Louis Store, say it’s been a rough couple of years navigating the ongoing pandemic.

“It’s been wild," Karson said. "It's definitely been a challenge of keeping up with regulations, and staffing and being open, and being shut.”

Karson said despite the stress of running a business during a pandemic, she’s hopeful this Small Business Saturday will bring in crowds.

Her business is celebrating five years. Inside, it looks a lot like a winter wonderland with giant ornaments hanging from the ceiling, and smaller-themed ornaments lining the shelves for people to buy.

“If you’re feeling down and you need to come smile, it’s truly rainbows and butterflies and unicorns," Karson said. "When I’m having a bad day this is my little place to come to just smile.”

Despite the issues with labor shortages and delays in the supply chain, Erik, the manager at Tails Pet Boutique, has a giant smile on as he helps ring up customers’ merchandise.

“I’m grateful we are open," Erik said. "And hopefully everybody else feels the same way.”

Erik said although online deals may look tempting, he’s hoping people may give local shops a chance when it comes to their holiday shopping lists.

“You can go anywhere for your Macy's or things of that nature," Erik said. " But coming down to your local downtown—that’s what makes the community, that’s what creates jobs, that’s what creates a unique experience here.”

Several local shops say they will have big discounts for people who decide to come out for Small Business Saturday.

Angel Russell is a former KCBX News reporter who started her career in journalism as a reporter and producer for KREX on Colorado's Western Slope; she later moved to the Central Coast to work for KSBY as weekend anchor and weekday reporter. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, and playing guitar and piano.
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