Small Business Saturday: Shop Downtown Visalia

Link's Fine Clothing in Downtown Visalia is kind of like the family patriarch at a Thanksgiving dinner.

"December 1st will be our 71st year," Bob Link said.

The Main Street staple has been handed down through generations.

"My father started the business in 1941," Link said.

"He was on Court Street, moved to Main Street about five or six years later. We moved into this building about 25 years ago."

Throughout all those years, the holiday shopping season has been crucial.

"For us it amounts to probably 40% of our yearly business, comes from the months of November, December, January," Link said.

And when it comes to Downtown Visalia, you don't have to go far to find more family businesses.

"Gina and I run the downtown store together; her with her fashion design degree and me with experience," Marlene Sciacca said.

"It's our labor of love. That's what I tell everyone. It's a ton of work, but it's so, so worth it," Gina Sciacca said.

Chelsea Street Boutique was on Mooney Boulevard for ten years, but moved across the street from Link's three years ago, where mother and daughter Marlene and Gina Sciacca depend on dedicated downtowners.

"It's just got such a great home atmosphere. It was the best move we ever made. I love it here. We're kind of like a huge family downtown," Marlene Sciacca said.

It's that same idea of family that's kept Mike's Quality Camera's in business since 1977.

"My father started the business and my sister and I have continued on, staying local in the community. We've always been around here. We like this community," Robert Coz, who runs the store with his sister, said.

The camera shop does everything from develop film to sell cameras, tripods, picture frames and photography accessories, with that special attention you'll only get at a mom and pop.

"We're just not going to hand you the product. We're going to show you how it works, how it's going to tie into your system. And we're going to tie it into your system so we know that it works. Often times people buy things online or at big box stores and they find out it doesn't work for what they need," Coz said.

And just like most of those Main Street businesses, a dollar spent there is an investment in the community.

"It keeps your tax dollars and your money local, and it helps support the community in which you live," Coz said.

"You're supporting families, local people that you know and you've grown up with your whole life. You're not just supporting a big business CEO," Gina Sciacca said.

"Really if you look at the foundation of our country it's built on small businesses," Link said.

"Small Business Saturday" is this Saturday.

All of the Downtown Visalia stores will be open. And many of them will have extended hours this holiday season.

"Small Business Saturday" began in 2010 when American Express wanted to create a way for small businesses to get more exposure during one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year.

Last year, more than 100 million people came out to shop at independently-owned small businesses on that day.