Downtown South Bend celebrates Small Business Saturday

Downtown South Bend celebrates Small Business Saturday. //WSBT 22 Photo.

Communities across the country are focusing their shopping today on Small Business Saturday.

South Bend hosted a welcome station to help direct shoppers to the best deals.

It was the first time the city used this approach.

It highlighted a few businesses, and gave shoppers a chance to write thank you cards to their favorite stores.

Downtown South Bend wants the community to know how much the city has to offer.

"It's not one store that's driving people to downtown South Bend," says director of business engagement Leslie Pinson. "It's a community of stores. Whether it's food, or retail, or art, we have it all. They're wonderful people that are all working to create this sense of community in this downtown area."

One of the businesses highlighted today was Merriman's Piano.

Owner Stephen Merriman's motto is "Rescue, rehab, rehome."

"Each piano is an individual. We approach it as such. I hold them in very high regard and respect their creation and how they got there," says Merriman.

Merriman says the pianos he fixes find him, and each one comes with a story.

He also owns a space that allows musicians to play.

He grew up in South Bend and never expected he would return.

"I grew up in South Bend, and it was during a pretty depressing period where it was sort of just very lethargic and didn't really seem to have much of a heart and direction," says Merriman.

Now the effort behind small business Saturday is just another reason Merriman says he will never leave.

"In South Bend, it's so much more friendly to small business, and it's only just beginning," says Merriman.

It's also only just the beginning for Merriman's Piano.

Brother David has recently joined the team.

"It's a brand new feeling for me. It's kind of liberating because all that effort your putting into things is kind of all for the whole family thing," says David Merriman. "I don't know how to explain it. It's just different than working for someone else."

Owning a small business is like rebuilding a piano, it isn't easy.

"You have to do the work. You have to do it full blast," says Stephen Merriman. "You can't chip away at it. You have to dedicate yourself to it. You have to do it whole-heartedly because it'll chew you up and spit you back out."

The brothers are working on opening a new space on Sample Street inside the old Ziker factory.

Downtown South Bend says it hopes to host an even bigger event for Small Business Saturday next year.

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