Garden small businesses hold their own against big box stores

A woman does last-minute holiday shopping in a Garden City shop.

GARDEN CITY, Kan (KSNW) — During the holiday shopping season, small businesses in Garden City find themselves competing with big box stores. The downtown area has developed in recent years to adapt to their new neighbors.

When the Schulman Crossing shopping center opened up a few years ago, it made some small business owners worried.

“Initially we were, just because we weren’t sure how people were going to react to it,” said Andrea Kirchoff, a co-owner of The Corner on Main in downtown Garden City, “but it’s only benefited our business.”

She says the big box stores draw people into Garden City who then trickle into the downtown shopping area.

For her store, this has been an unusually successful holiday shopping season, helped in part to businesses opening on Sundays during December.

“It’s been much bigger,” she said. “More wrapping, more sales, more people coming in, so it’s been fantastic.”

But one shop owner KSN that business has gone down since stores like Target and Wal-Mart moved in, but she’s hopeful that incoming businesses can help make the downtown area more attractive to shoppers.

“The more we can do to make the downtown district livable, walkable so that people really don’t have to leave the downtown district to do any of their shopping unless they choose to, I think that’s going to help us to continue to grow downtown,” said Lona DuVall with the Finney County Economic Development Corporation.

Kirchoff agrees, saying, “Having more variety in town brings more people in, too. Plus we’re getting new things all the time.”

The new downtown additions she mentioned are unique for Garden, like the interactive puzzle-solving venue Escape the Clock, which opened this month.

Even more businesses are coming early next year.

“There’s a yoga studio,” said DuVall, “a juice bar that will be opening downtown. I think everybody’s excited about that.”

There are early plans to try and open a micro-brewery in the first floor of the Windsor Hotel.

Officials also hope to see a corner grocery store open up downtown to make the district more livable, but no specific plan is in the works yet.