Downtown district encourages support for local business

By LIBBEY MILES Lifestyles Reporter

Downtown Brookings has a lot to offer students and community members of all ages, not just those over 21. Shopping local can benefit both business owners and shoppers by supporting local entrepreneurs and artists, as well as giving tax dollars back to the city. 

Janice Fergen, owner of Sonnies for 32 years, said there is nothing like the environment of downtown. When small businesses disappear, the downtown disappears. She said small businesses are what keep a downtown district alive.  

 Fergen fears online shopping could run downtowns out of business everywhere.  

“I fear that my grandkids won’t know what a main street is like if the internet is running us out of business like the news  squawks about,” Fergen said.  

 Kirsten Gjesdal, owner of The Carrot Seed Kitchen Co., also recognizes the importance of local, downtown shops rather than online shopping.  

 “Our business is special because of the people, both our customers and our employees. We love to form connections with others, which you can’t get out of an online-only or big box business,” Gjesdal said. “People should shop at The Carrot Seed because we are a great local resource for kitchenware items and gifts.”  

 Fergen said it’s also important to shop local because it keeps money in the community and lowers taxes. 

 Also, Fergen mentioned the variety downtown offers.  

 “We try to have unique and different things. We keep a variety in our store,” Fergen said. “Downtown we have a wide variety of different, cute stores that we haven’t had in the past. Shopping local will keep them here.” 

 Vintage Willows manager Angie Iverson said the boutique sells artwork and jewelry made by local artists, as well as a “unique sense of style” that is hand-picked with SDSU students in mind.

“I think downtown has a reputation for college kids to be a place where you go to drink, and it’s not,” Iverson said. “There is literally something for everybody, whether it’s a service or a retail opportunity for students.”

Garrett Davis, manager of George’s Pizza, said that their business has been a staple of the Brookings community since 1971. 

“I think people like it because it’s only a Brookings original and you can only find it in Brookings, where it was started,” Davis said. “It also has the hometown feel because it is family owned.”  

 Todd Fergen, owner of Nick’s Hamburger Shop, said his business has carried on tradition with the same recipes, products and friendly customer service since 1929.  

 “People come to Nick’s to enjoy a unique small town charm, in an open setting where they can still watch their food prepared right in front of them … the old fashioned way,” Fergen said. “It’s where you can talk to your neighbor or see a long lost friend. Comfort food, conversation and memories make for a great place to be.” 

Carrie Kuhl, co-founder and web and graphic designer of Hitch Studio, said her business is unique because she and her business partner try to provide thoughtful cards and gifts that are treasures and can’t be found elsewhere in Brookings.  

 “When you stop by, we strive to provide you with a unique experience as well. You will be welcomed at the door, because we are truly happy you stopped by,” Kuhl said. “We have a seating area for you to hang out in for a while and you can even make yourself a coffee to enjoy while you shop or relax.” 

Contributing to downtown businesses also gives support to important organizations in the community.  

“We also strive to provide brands with a good mission.” Kuhl said. “For example, we carry BlueQ Socks, who donates 10 percent of sales to Doctors Without Borders.” 

Downtown Brookings offers community members and college students a variety of options and gives its support to community members and organizations. Community members’ support of downtown is what will keep local businesses thriving.