Small biz Saturday, Nov. 24

Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 10:58 am

“Last year was kind of off the charts,” Paige Carpenter said.

Carpenter, the general manager of the The Fabric Hut and Gift Gallery in Louisa, said the local store had an amazing turnout during last year’s Small Business Saturday.

She hopes participation in this year’s event will yield similar results.

This Saturday marks the third annual Small Business Saturday, a day to support the local businesses that create jobs, boost the economy and preserve neighborhoods around the country.

Sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday — two important shopping days for large retail stores and online businesses — the day serves as the traditional kick-off to the holiday shopping season for independent retailers and restaurateurs.

Last year, more than 100 million people came out to shop at independently-owned small businesses on the day and, according to a recent survey conducted by the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) and American Express, 46 percent of independent merchants plan to incorporate Small Business Saturday as part of their holiday strategy, while 67 percent of them plan on offering discounts on November 24.

The local Fabric Hut and Gift Gallery was one of the businesses that participated in the last year’s event — which was founded by American Express in 2010 to help small businesses get more exposure during one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year.

Carpenter said the day after

Thanksgiving is usually a busy time at the Main Street store.

“But last year was amazing,” she said. “It was a great day.”

Carpenter attributed the increased sales to participation in the American Express program, which in its third year is gaining national attention, and the continued support from loyal customers.

“It was great to see local people supporting local businesses the day after many of them visited the bigger retail stores,” Carpenter said of last year’s Small Business Saturday. “We are blessed to have such great customers.”

Dan Danner, NFIB CEO, said that research has shown that American consumers have a deep trust in, and admiration for, the small business community.

“Small Business Saturday gives them a chance to show their appreciation, and help America’s essential job creators in a very real way, by patronizing small shops, restaurants and service providers,” he said. “And anything that helps with sales is certainly appreciated by small business owners, many of whom have struggled to stay afloat in a rough and uncertain economy.”

Of those small business owners planning to promote Small Business Saturday, 80 percent expect a year-over-year boost in sales on that day, and discounts and special offers for consumers are one of the key incentives to drive consumers to “shop small.”

American Express cardholders can enroll their credit card online to participate in the program and will receive a one time $25 credit on their monthly statement when they make a $25 purchase or more at a qualifying business location on November 24.

Shoppers can locate local qualifying businesses such as Fabric Hut and Gift Gallery online or learn more about the program by visiting www.shopsmall.com.

Participation through the American Express program can also help small businesses increase their presence locally and online by offering free tools such as marketing materials, targeted online advertising, banners and logos, signage, social media templates, and social media and web site support.

Carpenter said her participation in the program helped the local business increase sales and hopes this year’s results will be as good as last year.

While Small Business Saturday is gaining notoriety, not all businesses participate in the American Express program. But many small businesses encourage customers to shop locally on the day between Black Friday and Cyber Monday by offering special discounts.

Many local businesses, including members of the Lake Anna Business Partnership, are running sales beginning this weekend.

The lake organization is gearing up for the holiday season and is holding its second annual Christmas Open House which runs from Nov. 23 to Dec. 17.

Visit www.visitlakeanna.org for a full list of participating businesses.

Regardless of whether local merchants participate in the official Small Business Saturday program founded by American Express, recognizing the day is a great way to help all local, small business get their piece of the Thanksgiving Day shopping pie.

“I think it’s great to remind people in between the two busy days, that there are some great things in town right under their noses,” Carpenter said. “And I hope it’s a big day for all of our local businesses.”

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