July 22, 2014

Local businesses gear up for Small Business Saturday

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By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

November 27th, 2013

With many Black Friday deals starting before the turkey even comes out of the oven this Thanksgiving, local business owners are hoping shoppers turn out for another shopping promotion—Small Business Saturday.

Bead Crazy owner Ginger Morton said it can be tough for small businesses to compete against larger stores.

“My business has been badly hurt by the Internet and by big box stores… and by the economic downturn,” she said.

Morton said she loves the idea of Small Business Saturday, and will be offering 25 percent off at her Williston store.

“I think that anything that can be done to preserve small businesses is wonderful,” she said. “Small businesses employ local folks, pay property and sales taxes, and offer different products and services that help dilute the homogenization of our country which is happening by retail giants being in every town offering all the same merchandise.”

In Vermont, it’s not hard to shop local.

Vermont has nearly 18,000 small businesses—employing nearly 60 percent of the private sector of the workforce, according to the Small Business Administration Vermont District Office, which categorizes a small business as one with fewer than 500 employees.

“We really have a pretty good paradise here for high-quality, locally made items,” said Darcy Carter, Small Business Association Vermont District director. “We do encourage people to support the local businesses, particularly because they do a lot for the community.”

Carter said an estimated 50 percent of money spent at local businesses stays local.

Besides keeping the money consumers spend in the area, local businesses employ local people, support local sports teams and donate to local non-profits and food banks.

“It’s a good way, between Black Friday and Cyber Monday to have Small Business Saturday, where we focus on those small businesses that really make your community vibrant.”

American Express launched Small Business Saturday in 2010, and since then it has taken on a life of it’s own, said Carter. This year, the credit card company is offering $10 back to cardholders who shop at qualifying small businesses. Approximately 1,400 U.S. cities—including four in Vermont—have announced their participation, while many small stores offer discounts of their own.

Lenny’s Shoes and Apparel is offering a $20 gift card to shoppers who spend $100 or more.

“Being a small, local company, we always want to take part in a day like that…. We see the hard work that goes into being a small, local business,” said Marketing Director Amanda Cashin. “Online shopping is always tempting, but I think there’s something that is a little more personal and real when you come into a store like Lenny’s.”

Kathie Cooke, who owns the Paper Peddler, said she’ll offer a free gift to shoppers who spend $50 or more. Shopping local “is important because it helps keep us in business so we can keep the money in our local area,” Cooke said.

In Burlington, nearly every store on the Church Street Marketplace will offer some sort of sale or discount, many of them offering 20 percent off.

For more information about Small Business Saturday and participating stores, visit www.shopsmallnow.com.

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