By Stephanie Choate
With many Black Friday deals already underway, business groups and Williston stores are encouraging people to spend some time shopping locally on Small Business Saturday.
“When you shop local and shop small, you’re supporting your friends and neighbors,” said Shawn Souldice, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business’s Vermont Chapter. “You’re supporting your community, keeping most of that money right on Main Street.”
“Falling between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, on November 29, Small Business Saturday can be a fun part of your holiday weekend,” according to a Better Business Bureau press release. “By staying local, you’ll support the small businesses that helped create the identity of your community. This annual event is a great way to show your support for these local shops.”
Residents can also snag deals on Saturday, while avoiding the crush of big stores.
Amanda Cashin of Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel said the store is offering 20 percent off clothing and 10 percent off footwear on Friday and Saturday.
“We’ve been, for 24 years now, family run and family owned,” she said. “We really see the benefits of supporting our local community instead of just going on the Internet to shop, keeping our dollars local within Vermont.”
Local businesses often work to give back to their communities as well. For instance, Lenny’s is hosting a winter coat drive, accepting donations of gently used winter coats for United Way. When you bring in a donation, you get 20 percent off a new adult coat.
Ginger Morton, who owns Bead Crazy in Taft Corners, is offering 25 percent off storewide on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday.
“I have seen huge competition and a huge reduction in sales from the two box stores that have come in and the Internet,” Morton said.
Morton said residents who want to support local people and who want personal service should shop local on Saturday.
“If they don’t, there will be no small businesses,” she said.
The Paper Peddler owner Kathie Cooke is offering special deals on travel totes, Wind and Fire expandable bracelets and Camellia beads.
“(Shopping locally) helps support our local economy; more of our tax dollars stay local,” Cooke wrote in an email to the Observer. “We offer better, more personable service and, as a locally owned and operated business, we respect, value and appreciate all our customers who shop at our store.”
American Express launched Small Business Saturday in 2010. Shoppers got into the local spirit last year, spending $5.7 billion at locally owned shops and restaurants nationwide, according to a survey conducted by the National Federation of Independent Business and American Express. Last year’s spending marked a 3.6 percent increase over 2012’s event. This year, the National Retail Federation forecasts that holiday sales will increase by more than 4 percent.
By Stephanie Choate