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Redwood Falls Gazette - Redwood Falls - MN
  • Think small business this Saturday

  • After fighting the crowds of fellow deal seekers Black Friday and before checking out the online sales Cyber Monday, holiday shoppers are urged to shop small – as in small local businesses – again this holiday season.
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  • After fighting the crowds of fellow deal seekers Black Friday and before checking out the online sales Cyber Monday, holiday shoppers are urged to shop small – as in small local businesses – again this holiday season.
    Small Business Saturday, held the Saturday after Thanksgiving, takes place Nov. 30. This is the day shoppers can avoid the long lines at the mall and big-box stores and enjoy a less hectic shopping experience.
    It’s a day in which they can find a unique gift for a special person on their list, such as a centerpiece de-signed by the local florist, a sweater offered at a downtown boutique or a painting of a local landmark sold at the museum gift shop.
    The day was conceived in 2010 by American Express, and 130 partners, in an attempt to boost small brick-and-mortar stores in local communities.
    The first year 1.5 million Facebook users liked the Small Business Saturday page, www.facebook.com /SmallBusinessSaturday, according to the credit card company.
    Last year, more than 100 million people shopped small, driving up sales in the independent business market by 28 percent.
    Like last year, American Express is offering an incentive this year in the form of a credit on some cardholders’ statements if they shop at a small business that day using an eligible American Express card.
    Michael Chodos, associate administrator for entrepreneurial development at the Small Business Admin-istration, said the agency got on board when it heard of the movement, providing support and awareness about the day.
    “It’s grown enormously each year. Last year, it caught fire,” Chodos said.
    Chodos knows the local mom and pop stores usually can’t compete when it comes to price with the big-box competition, but said the small shops can gain an edge by providing good customer service or a product not available at the large retailers.
    “Small businesses need to decide their niche,” he said. “If they provide a service, they need to find a way to be more engaged and responsive to their customers’ needs.”
    Chodos said the past three years have been tough times for small and large businesses, particularly around the holidays.
    However, he added, small businesses that participated in Small Business Saturday re-ported an increase in revenues and in the number of customers. He had no formal statistics, saying it was anecdotal.
    Chodos believes there is going to be money left over from the Black Friday shopping blitz to patronize small businesses, especially if those businesses create a buzz about Small Business Saturday ahead of time through advertising, posters, fliers and promotions.
    “If store owners start talking about the day beforehand, shoppers will start thinking about what they want to buy,” Chodos said.
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