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Area small businesses gear up

Day encourages consumers to ‘shop small’

Mirror photo by Walt Frank / Andrea Hammel, owner of Peterman’s Flower Shop, works with holiday decorations at her 608 N. Fourth Ave. shop. Peterman’s has been a regular participant in Small Business Saturday.

“I’ve been doing this for five years and I prepare for that day. We realize the day after Black Friday is our day,” said LaVonne Falbo, owner of LaVintage Decor, 1410 11th Ave.

Starting in 2010, American Express designated the day — the Saturday after Thanksgiving each year — to encourage people to “Shop Small.”

The financial services company reports that since the commemoration began, “Consumers have reported spending an estimated $103 billion across all Small Business Saturdays combined.”

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses create two out of every three net new jobs in the private sector. What’s more, over half of all Americans own or work for a small business.

For every dollar spent at a small business in the U.S., approximately 67 cents stays in the local community. So when consumers “Shop Small on Small Business Saturday” — and all year long — it can help add up to a big year, according to American Express.

The awareness of Small Business Saturday is better than when it began.

“Unfortunately, it’s still not close to where it needs to be to have a significant impact for small businesses. I’m a little disappointed that American Express has not been consistent in forwarding promotional information to chambers like ours in a timely manner, something they did effectively in the first couple years. We’ll hope that we can find other ways to offset that situation,” said President/CEO Joe Hurd of the Blair County Chamber of Commerce.

Any focus on small business is good, Hurd said.

“Although it’s only one day each year, any focus on the importance of small businesses in a county like ours is beneficial. Even if it brings minimal traffic in the doors, Small Business Saturday has a motivating component for small businesses that speaks to their value and the impact they have on the local economy, which is substantial,” Hurd said.

The Bedford County Chamber of Commerce is proud to be a Community Champion as part of Small Business Saturday.

“We have grown our participation beyond this one kick-off day to spread a message about shopping local throughout the holiday season and even throughout the year,”said President/CEO Kellie Goodman Shaffer.

Over the last 10 years, the national campaign has raised awareness significantly about the importance of doing business locally, Shaffer said.

“The benefits are many to the shopper: personalized customer service and savings in fuel costs, just for starters, but there is a greater good as well. It’s important for the community to be aware of how much local businesses give back. Not only do their taxes help to fund services like first responders, but they also contribute to local charities, churches, schools and much more,” Shaffer said.

Peterman’s Flower Shop, 608 N. Fourth Ave. and Altoona Beauty School, 1528 Valley View Blvd., have been regular participants in Small Business Saturday.

“It is important to promote local products and to try and stay competitive with the bigger stores. The smaller local businesses are the ones who support the community more so than the large businesses. An increase in traffic flow is good for all of us for the time and effort we take to make our shops look beautiful,” said Andrea Hammel, Peterman’s owner.

“As a small business, we appreciate the community supporting us and keeping us in business. We will be open for services and also will have some Christmas deals on our retail items. We do see more foot traffic. Small businesses are what helps drive the economy,” said Altoona Beauty School President Linzi Biesinger.

New Look Uniform and Embroidery, 820 S. 20th St., and LaVintage Decor also have been regular participants.

“We like to promote shopping local. We like to get out and promote other local businesses. Some of the other small businesses here buy products from us, we like to give back to them as well,” said New Look owner Kim McEldowney. “When you support small businesses it helps the community. You are supporting someone who is local rather than a CEO who is making millions of dollars.”

“Small businesses are the wave of the future or it has already begun. It is important to support small businesses. Many of them are owned by your friends. You look at the mall and the spots are being taken over by things other than small businesses,” Falbo said.

Without the small businesses, the community barely survives, Hurd said.

“Small businesses drive our economy in ways that we often take for granted. Like our local nonprofits, we would never fully understand how much small businesses mean to our quality of life until we didn’t have them,” Hurd said.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.

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