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Leaders call on ‘Shop Small Saturday’ to expand

Initiative created by American Express to champion smaller businesses

The philosophy of Small Business Saturday should extend beyond one day, area business leaders say.

American Express created Small Business Saturday 12 years ago encouraging people to Shop Small the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

“Shop Small Saturday has been an extremely important initiative championing small businesses and local communities. But supporting our local businesses needs to be something we do the other 364 days of the year as well,” said President/CEO Kellie Goodman Shaffer of the Bedford County Chamber of Commerce.

Blair County Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Joe Hurd said more than 80% of its members are small businesses.

“Any special promotion, including Small Business Saturday, that calls attention to the importance of small businesses in our community is worthwhile. We constantly remind consumers that small businesses are the backbone of our economy and that they need to support them. Hopefully, that message will resonate even more emphatically this year when so many more small businesses are struggling.”

According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses create two out of every three new jobs in the private sector.

For every dollar spent at a small business in the U.S., about 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.

According to an American Express Shop Small Impact survey, more than half of small businesses surveyed agree that this year’s Small Business Saturday is more critical than ever for their business and 78% say holiday sales will impact their ability to keep their doors open in 2022. In fact, consumers shopping small this holiday season have the potential to contribute an estimated $695 billion into the U.S. small business economy.

Small Business Saturday has been a big day for LaVintage Decor, 1410 11th Ave.

“Shop Small Saturday has always been a big day for us, usually bigger than Black Friday. …

I think this Saturday is just as important to other small businesses in the community,” owner LaVonne Falbo said. “Since we have the wares of over 40 local vendors at LaVintageDecor, customers are not just supporting one business, they are supporting several.”

New Look Uniform and Embroidery Inc., 800 S. 20th St., has participated in the event in past years but won’t be a formal participant this year.

But owner Kimberly McEldowney remains a big supporter of small businesses.

Her business continues to suffer the impacts of the pandemic.

“We have not yet resumed all our normal business hours since the pandemic hit in March of 2020, but have recently added back our Monday evening hours until 7 p.m. and are hoping these additional hours will be supported by our customers that cannot make it to our store Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” McEldowney said.

“We appreciate all of our customers who stop in our shop or call on the phone before they check the internet for purchases, and we try to always tell them that “we appreciate their loyalty to shopping local,” she said.

Bedford County is focusing on a Shop Small Season, Shaffer said.

“It’s important to think about shopping ‘local first’ all the time — not just for one day,” Shaffer said. “One of the silver linings of the pandemic was a focus on local businesses — and the recognition of the importance of getting takeout, buying local gift cards, etc. Our communities rallied to support local businesses to help them survive, and that in turn keeps our communities strong.”

Amid the supply chain challenges and shipping delays, local businesses provide more personalized customer service and easier returns.

“The work of local artisans is not sitting on ships in a harbor in California. … Shopping locally keeps important dollars in our economy, helping businesses to be successful, and then in turn, those businesses support things like sports teams, school groups, churches and first responders,” Shaffer said.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 814-946-7467.

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