YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Promoting small business this year could be more important than ever, small business owners and advocates say.
This year, Small Business Saturday, the annual effort to focus attention on the nation’s small businesses, will be observed Nov. 28.
American Express launched the Small Business Saturday initiative in 2010, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and Black Friday, to encourage people to “Shop Small” and bring more holiday dollars to small business.
In 2019, an estimated $19.6 billion was spent on Small Business Saturday, according to a survey conducted on behalf of American Express and the National Federation of Independent Business.
“We all came together on Saturday to prove that shopping small really does add up,” said Elizabeth Rutledge, chief marketing officer at American Express. “Over the past 10 years, consumers reported spending an estimated total of more than $120 billion at small businesses on Small Business Saturday.”
The survey further reported that 97% of consumers who shopped on Small Business Saturday agree that small businesses are essential to their communities and 95% reported the day makes them want to shop or eat at small, independently owned businesses all year long, not just during the holiday season.
The Columbiana Area Chamber of Commerce is among the organizations across the country serving as Small Business Saturday Neighborhood Champions.
The chamber will distribute Small Business Saturday swag to area businesses and promote the initiative on social media, says Erich Offenburg, executive director.
The chamber also is working with the Columbiana County Health Department to put together an artisan market on Main Street. It will include family activities and entertainment, all socially distanced.
Part of a planned three weekends of activities is a holiday parade with a twist. Instead of residents standing along a parade route to watch the vehicles, marching bands and such, it’s the spectators who will drive to view stationary displays along Main Street, Offenburg says. The annual Joy of Christmas light show will take place at the Harvey S. Firestone Recreational Park.
Small businesses, which operate on small margins, could use an economic jolt as they prepare to end the year, says Nick Giancola. He and his sister, Erica Lewis, co-own Spruce Décor & Gift, with stores in Niles and Boardman.
Spruce will offer giveaways and promote local shopping during the Thanksgiving weekend, Giancola says. Like most small businesses, Spruce was adversely affected by the pandemic. As a nonessential business, both stores were closed for a time.
While the stores were shuttered, Spruce moved forward with holding live sales on Facebook, to see if customers would be interested in shopping that way.
“We found out that they were and they really enjoyed it,” Giancola says.
Spruce upgraded its technology to place items into customers’ online shopping carts once they said they wanted to buy them in the comments.
“We’re going to continue to grow that aspect of the business while we open our doors and invite our customers to come into the stores,” he says.
In Sharon, Pa., The Winner hopes to entice customers on Small Business Saturday with its selection of “gift-giving ideas,” says Amanda Cowan, store manager.
These include handbags, gloves, scarves and hats, as well as mark-down racks throughout the store on Small Business Saturday.
“It’s important for the customer to think about the experience of shopping local and supporting them to preserve a community,” Cowan says.
“If you are looking for the perfect gift for someone or shopping for yourself you will find it here.”
Pictured: The Winner in Sharon, Pa.