Blooming local businesses

Small shops shape economy

Mandy Aungst of Duncansville shops at Trendz by Poppy, located at 214 W. Plank Road, on Friday afternoon. Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec

Local small businesses are ready for their day in the sun, as Saturday marks the ninth annual Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Saturday, founded by American Express in 2010, is held each year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving to encourage people to shop at independently owned businesses online and at storefronts across the country.

“When you shop small, you are backing the small businesses that strengthen and diversify our communities,” said Elizabeth Rutledge, chief marketing officer at American Express in a statement. “We’re extremely proud of how Small Business Saturday has grown over the past nine years.”

The Blair County Chamber of Commerce is again supporting Small Business Saturday. “I think the businesses who have participated see it as a really good opportunity to promote an aspect of business that is too often overlooked, the vital role that small businesses play in a community’s economy,” said President/CEO Joe Hurd. “We would like to see more participation. Our membership is 85 percent small businesses. It is important that they grasp onto opportunities like this to showcase what they do.”

Small businesses are important to the community.

“In a community like ours, our economy is so dependent on small businesses. So much of the growth in the business community is the result of small businesses that are successful. They are the growth factor that is necessary for our community to continue to operate economically effective,” Hurd said.

The Bedford County Chamber of Commerce is also supporting Small Business Saturday.

“We value Shop Small Saturday, as well as our ongoing buy local efforts, and especially during the holiday season because it is vital for consumers to know the importance of putting dollars back into the local economy. Small businesses are the backbone of the community, supporting schools, churches, fire, police, nonprofits etc. throughout the year. In addition to the economic value, shopping local also provides personalized customer service, often from someone you know,” said President/CEO Kellie Goodman Shaffer.

At least two local businesses are taking a different approach to Small Business Saturday.

Green Home Goods, 5901B Sixth Ave., recently marked 10 years in business. Owner Lee Anne Ehredt will hold an open house and has reached out to several other small businesses in her area.

She is collaborating with owner Travis Seymore of Alto Markets Italian Foods, which recently opened at 5933 Sixth Ave.

“I will give him room to bring in trays of his items,” Ehredt said.

Ehredt said she is serving as a “champion” for other businesses.

“American Express sent me 10 marketing packets, I will give them to some other area businesses and invite them in to see what we are doing here. We are from the same area, but are not always able to take the time to see what each other are doing. We need to reach out to other small businesses,” Ehredt said.

Ashlie McMullin, owner of Moonstruck Vintage Finds, 214 Allegheny St., Hollidaysburg, is helping Family Services Inc.

“Small Business Saturday is all about community support. I am collecting donations for Family Services. This is the second year we have done that. If people drop something off, they are entered to win a merchants’ basket. Family Services sent us a list of things they need. I wanted to do something different, and I thought this would be a good way to do it,” McMullin said.

“Moonstruck Vintage has been and continues to be an awesome supporter of Family Services. Our county has hidden gems in the small business owners and the unique services and goods they provide and when they give back to the community through nonprofits, it’s a win-win,” said Lisa Hann, Family Services executive director.

Small Business Saturday is important to many local small businesses.

“Small Business Saturday is my busiest day of the year. We were busy last Black Friday, but we had greater sales numbers on Small Business Saturday,” said Stephanie Hite, owner of Trade Secrets, 1223 13th Ave. “We don’t do any online sales; all of our sales are from foot traffic. All of the foot traffic has made a huge impact. We have had record-breaking sales numbers. If not for the community coming in and spending their money, we wouldn’t be here.”

“It’s come to my realization after the last 3.5 years, every Black Friday we have a busy day, but every Small Business Saturday is busier,” said LaVonne Falbo, owner of LaVintage Decor in Juniata, 1410 11th Ave.

Small Business Saturday makes people aware of the importance of shopping small, said Becky Hoover, owner of Trendz by Poppy, 214 W. Plank Road.

“We get customers we haven’t had before. There are people who carpool and go around to the small businesses. We usually get existing customers and a few new customers who support shopping small,” Hoover said.

“We need to let the community know we are here and also contribute to the economic stability in the community. I am in a new location. This is a great opportunity to take advantage of,” said Christie Jordan, owner of Diversity Salon and Spa, 1116A 12th St.

Small Business Saturday is all about shopping local, said Kim McEldowney, owner of New Look Uniform and Embroidery, 800 S. 20th St.

“When someone does something for small businesses, we try to participate. I don’t know for sure if we see an influx of new customers, but it does get our name out there by participating,” McEldowney said.

Altoona Beauty School has been a regular participant in Small Business Saturday.

“I think it is great for the community to support small businesses. We make sure we have all of our holiday items ready to go. We don’t get inundated with people, but we see a few more. Small businesses are what the country was built on; that is why people should support them rather than the big chain stores,” President Linzi Biesinger said.

Kerr Kreations Floral and Gift Shoppe, 1417 11th Ave., has been another regular participant.

“We look forward to it every year to see the people who want to shop local. The small businesses are the ones who support and give back to the community,” manager Chelsea Kerr said.