Shopping Small Business Gets Big in West County

A movement to shop local for the holidays becomes Small Business Saturday. This year, local shoppers will find deals on computers, clothes, fitness gear and more.

A new day has been added to holiday calendar, but keep reading! It’s a good one.

A year ago, as the U. S. economy was beginning its upturn, small businesses were looking for a way to attract customers, and according to American Express, a supporter of the day, 93 percent of consumers like to support local businesses. Thus was born Small Business Saturday.

“Small businesses are really the lifeblood of the economy,” said Mary Ann Fitzmaurice Reilly, senior VP, customer marketing for American Express.

Black Friday, the holiday shopping kickoff was first. Then the Monday following Thanksgiving became Cyber Monday. Now Small Business Saturday encourages  shoppers to hit the sidewalks and support locally owned stores the Saturday after Black Friday. Last year was the first. This year it’s Nov. 26 and many Town and Country and Manchester businesses are not only participating, but offering storewide deals. This year, local shoppers will find discounts on clothes, computers, gifts, fitness equipment and more (more details below).

Fitzmaurice Reilly said last year was about creating awareness of the day. This year shops are being encouraged to use Facebook and other social networking tools to promote their business. American Express’s Small Business Saturday Facebook page encourages consumers to shop small, and provides tools for businesses to make their own Facebook page, if they don’t already have one.

“What we were able to do on the consumer side last year, and continue to do this year, is to tap into the traffic, the viral nature of the Facebooks of the world,” Fitzmaurice Reilly said. According to a survey conducted by American Express, 89 million people said they plan to shop small on Small Business Saturday.

Laura Feldmann manages Town and Country's and tells Patch the store will offer 25 to 50 percent off the entire store on that day. 

"Not only are you going to get better customer service, but you're also going to see more unique pieces and you're keeping your tax dollars in your town," Feldmann tells Patch.

Jeff Minnis owner of  off Manchester Road in Manchester agrees that small businesses provide a better shopping experience for consumers in a number of ways.

"For us the big thing is the quality that we offer and we have a lot more knowledge of our products so we can meet customers' needs the best," Minnis said. "Plus our service is a really good deal at around $80 an hour."

Minnis said his story will also be offering deals on new and used computers on small business Saturday.

"We'll have good quality used laptops around $250. Those are always really popular. They're business models which are around $1,000 typically. We'll also have new customer built computers around $499," Minnis explained.

Town and Country's  sells upper end fitness equipment and is offering 15 percent off most items throughout the store the entire day. Store spokesperson Debby Siegel agrees that knowledge is a big reason to shop small businesses.

"This is a small store, the people who work here are iron man level triathletes so they know the equipment," said Debby Siegel. "They're very connected and can give you advice based on experience. They're not just some college kid who applied at the store."

Swim, Bike Run is also offering a digital wish list for shoppers this year, so customers can add what they want for a gift and anyone can purchase it from that list.

 in Town and Country’s Lamp and Lantern Village sells accent furniture, jewelry, gifts and trinkets for the home. Owner Kay Wallace said shoppers should support their neighborhood stores now more than ever, especially in today's economy.

"I have been in business for 10 years and can name 14 small businesses that have gone out of business in the last few years because of the economy, " Wallace tells Patch.

"Mom and pop sores stores have a great flavor that you don't have in big box stores. Our things are very affordable, very unique and some are even one of a kind," Wallace explained. "I do the buying and my mission statement is to find things with a great look that are very affordable. Today that is extremely important with the economy."

To get things going, American Express is giving the first 10,000 small businesses to make their own Facebook page through the Small Business Saturday Facebook page $100 in Facebook advertising.

For businesses already on Facebook, there’s a program created with the help of Google called My Business Story, which helps a business tell its story on Facebook with a YouTube video.

Patti Guttmann, with the St. Louis office of the U.S. Small Business Administration said the S.B.A. sponsors an entire week, nationally, that promotes small businesses. In St. Louis, the week, Small Business Week of Eastern Missouri, is in May.

Guttmann said of the second annual Small Business Saturday, “hopefully millions of people will be shopping at small businesses on that Saturday. To help them grow is a fantastic thing."




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