When a group of small-business owners in College View got together this year, the result wasn't competition, but collaboration.

For Small Business Saturday, 13 College View shops collaborated for the first time in an effort to make shopping in the neighborhood a collective experience.

"When we work together, it offers inspiration and adds momentum to our growing neighborhood," said Megan Hasselbalch, owner of Paper Kite, a boutique at 48th Street and Prescott Avenue that sells baby clothes, women's accessories, and paper and home goods.

Shoppers were able to get a punch card from any of the 13 stores, and it was punched at each store they visited. A completed punch card could be turned into Goldenrod Pastries for raffle prizes worth more than $400. 

"We just thought it would be a good way to bring more eyes to the neighborhood," Hasselbalch said. 

One challenge of owning a small business, Hasselbalch said, is the size in comparison to big retail stores.

A national shopping holiday following Black Friday, Small Business Saturday is meant to encourage shoppers to shop within their own community, as opposed to big-box retail and e-commerce stores.

In College View, participating businesses offered deals on everything from furniture and fashion to pastries and beauty products.

"It's great, because you can grab a coffee or a slice of cake, then go one store over and buy a new dress or some shoes," said Beth Krause, who was working at Pattino, a shoe boutique owned by her daughter, Jori McCarville. "It's the best day of the year."

While the punch card idea was new this year, small businesses looking out for each other isn't new. 

"People come to one store but might be referred to another if the owner thinks you would enjoy it," said Meghan Ehrke, owner of Select Style, a women's clothing store, since 2014. "I try to return the favor too, because that's how we all can thrive."

Ehrke said she was drawn to the College View neighborhood for its "family atmosphere."

Her store worked with United Way of Lincoln to donate 10 percent of proceeds from Small Business Saturday to the organization.

"When I got the call, I thought 'Why wouldn't I help?'" she said. "Shopping small is more than just buying products, it's investing into your community, so it's important for me to give back to it, too."

Social media played its part, with #SmallBusinessSaturday used by College View shops online.

"About half of the people who have come in say they saw it on Instagram," said Mary Barry-Magsamen, Hasselbalch's mother who was working at Paper Kite. 

Hasselbalch said she hopes the collaborative effort for Small Business Saturday will continue in years to come.

"It really helps when we band together like this. You can really see the difference," she said.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7223 or hmuslic@journalstar.com.

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Reporting intern

Hana Muslic is a reporting intern.

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