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Locals crowd main street for Small Business Saturday

by Coutney Deeren - Copy Editor
Fri, Nov 30th 2018 04:00 pm

In 2010, the credit card company American Express came up with an idea to support small, local businesses. This campaign was meant to get consumers to do their holiday shopping in their own communities rather than online shopping, which has become popular over the years. One year later, in 2011, Washington State mayors, governors, senators and President Obama showed support for the day, making it official. One year after that American Express encouraged local business owners to promote their businesses. 

Since then, the campaign has only grown. In 2015, only five years after the idea was planted, over 95 million people shopped at small businesses, according to fbfs.com. 

This day has come to be known as Small Business Saturday. Promoted between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the day serves as a way to support friends and neighbors who own businesses locally. 

Jime Drake of Unique Gift Boutique, located on Main St. in the village of Brockport, touched on that very sentiment. 

“[Come out to] see your neighbors and friends and keep the local economy and your neighbors [store owners] going,” Drake said. “Statistically money spent in the local economy is spent and invested back into the local economy and not just sent off to a corporate office in some far off city.” 

Drake also brought attention to the feeling of community Small Business Saturday brings about. 

“It’s a lot of fun, it’s great to see the community come together,” he said. “It’s nice in Brockport because all of the downtown merchants are local people, not a corporation somewhere else. Local folks helping local folks.” 

Small Business Saturday is a time for visitors and locals alike to get accquainted. 

It’s also a chance to come out and, as Drake puts it, “see some special items you may not find in the big box stores.” Unique Gift Boutique is one such store to see different kinds of items, as it is home to numerous interesting and special finds, like personalized pillows, picture frames, mugs and anything in between. 

Another local business, one of the newest additions to Brockport, Upstate Vintage Market, did not participate in Small Business Saturday. Owners, Gavin and Heidi Vogt, wrote in an email that while they didn’t participate, they “knew several people who did.” 

Along with Small Business Saturday, the village of Brockport also held a Plaid Friday event. Shoppers who showed up wearing anything plaid had opportunities to win free giveaways or attain special deals. Many local businesses participated in both events. 

Shoppers look forward to Small Business Saturday and enjoy an opportunity to help support their community. Brockport native, Tammy Smith is one such shopper. She explained that while Small Business Saturday is a “good idea,” it “only covers one day.” According to Smith, there are other small towns that have events lasting a whole month between Small Business Saturday and Christmas Eve.

“They have a treasure hunt for prizes at all the small stores and you can get a ticket for every receipt you produce for purchases you made at small shops, then you put your tickets in a barrel to be drawn every day for the month of December for prizes that the merchants have donated,” Smith said. 

According to statistics from the Small Business Administration, compiled by grasshopper.com, small businesses make up 99.7 percent of all businesses in the United States. Additionally, between 1993 and 2011, small businesses created 64 percent of new jobs in the United States. 

While it is encouraged that consumers shop locally, small businesses that are online are often not taken into consideration. For example, many small business owners have etsy shops set up or simply sell things via Facebook. Some point out that small businesses don’t have the low prices on all the technology stuff people search for like big box stores, but it is still important to remember many small businesses are family owned and buying from them means supporting your friends and neighbors while also adding revenue back into your community.