MIAMI COUNTY — An answer to two of the biggest shopping days of the year — Black Friday and Cyber Monday — Small Business Saturday encourages shoppers to patronize local independent stores on the Saturday following Thanksgiving.
Small Business Saturday was launched in 2010 as part of American Express’ Shop Small initiative to encourage shoppers to support their local businesses. Since then, the event has grown every year, with more than 95 million people hitting independent stores in 2015.
In 2014, shopping small made big bucks for mom and pop stores nationwide — an estimated $14.3 billion.
“Certainly, Small Business Saturday has grown in the last couple of years. I think that more people are really latching on to the idea of supporting our local businesses and are taking the opportunity that day to do just that,” Mainstreet Piqua Director Lorna Swisher said. “We all want downtowns that are unique, special, fun places to visit, so if we want those kinds of businesses in our downtown, we need to support those businesses.”
In partnership with local chambers of commerce and downtown organizations, businesses throughout the county will be offering special sales and promotions, extended hours, and even freebies and giveaways.
“All of our stores are good at that,” Downtown Tipp City Partnership Director Heather Dorsten said. In addition to a gift card scavenger hunt set up by the chamber and the partnership, Tipp City businesses will be coordinating their own specials, Dorsten said.
Stores in Piqua, Troy and Tipp City will be handing out American Express-provided “swag” to thank shoppers for supporting community enterprise. Readmore’s Hallmark in Piqua will offer shoppers a chance to spin a wheel and win prizes, Swisher said.
Local organizers and businesses say that shopping local is the best way to support downtown communities.
“It’s important to focus shoppers downtown,” Troy Main Street Executive Director John Wilson said. “That’s the heart of the community.”
Independent business owners and downtown organizations also remind people that shopping small isn’t just a one-day experience, encouraging shoppers to keep local stores and restaurants in mind all year round.
“It creates a much grander sense of community. I love walking into all of the local businesses and being recognized by name. You won’t find that at your big retailers. There’s a sense of family and a genuine love for the customer when you shop small,” said Jen White, owner of That Place On Main in Tipp City.
“Why wouldn’t there be? Our livelihood depends on it. You’re a needle in the haystack at Macy’s, etc., but at That Place on Main and other small businesses, you’re a name, with a face, with a story and we take great pride in knowing your story and your name.”
At stores like That Place On Main and Pachamama Market in Troy, shopping small also enables shoppers to give back by buying ethically sourced and fair trade items.
“The fair trade community is sending the message that ‘Fair is the new black,’” Pachamama Market owner Lindsay Woodruff said. “Getting away from the commercial crush of Black Friday and focusing on ethical gifts. You’re supporting the local community by shopping small, but you’re also supporting small-scale artisans and farmers around the world.”
Pachamama Market is also offering free fair trade coffee to visitors all weekend long.
Take advantage of social media to check out local businesses before you shop. Many area stores will be promoting their specials and sales on sites like Facebook and Instagram.
Not sure what’s in your area? Find a map of participating businesses near you at www.shopsmall.com.
Reach Cecilia Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org.