Small Business Saturday plays big at store
MISHAWAKA, Nov 25, 2012 (Menafn - South Bend Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --Dan Eycleshymer is not naive. The co-owner of Backyards, an outdoor furniture store in downtown Mishawaka, understands Small Business Saturday is never going to be as big as Black Friday.
Truth is, most local stores can't afford to offer the types of deep discounts that attract Black Friday shoppers, he said. They'd put themselves out of business.
But the campaign to encourage people to shop local the Saturday after Thanksgiving appears to be working, he said.
"I think it has improved business," Eycleshymer said Saturday. "We've only been here five years, but people do come in and mention it."
The scene outside of his store Saturday morning, before he opened the doors, even reminded him a bit of Black Friday, he said.
"Not to sound like Best Buy," he said, "but we open at 10, a sensible hour, and we had people waiting in line to get in."
Sponsored by American Express, Small Business Saturday started in 2010 as a way to encourage people to shop local the Saturday after Thanksgiving, between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
The event is intended to focus attention on small businesses and the important role they play in the local economy. It is estimated that for every 100 spent at a local store, 68 returns to the community.
That should be important to consumers, Eycleshymer said.
"The big box stores, as soon as the money is in the till, it's transferred to a bank elsewhere," he said. "Our money stays here. Our bank is a half block down the street."
Added Brandy Crise, manager at the antique store Les Deux Soeurs, just down the street, "And people who have small businesses and who shop at small businesses are more likely to put their money back into small businesses."
Crise noted that most of Les Deux Soeurs' suppliers are small businesses themselves.
Though local stores don't have the advertising budgets of national retailers, American Express has done a decent job promoting Small Business Saturday, such that shoppers are more aware of it now than three years ago.
One such shopper, Theresa Thomas of South Bend, spent Saturday browsing at Mishawaka Art & Frame Gallery, around the corner from Backyards and Les Deux Soeurs. The store is owned by Peggy O'Neal.
Thomas said she appreciates the fact that local stores offer one-of-a-kind items.
"You're gonna get cookie-cutter things at Wal-Mart," she said. "This (the art and frame gallery) has character and it contributes to the cultural heritage of the community.
As she spoke, Thomas picked up a small statue of Jesus Christ. "How much is he?" she asked.
"35," O'Neal said.
"35?" Thomas repeated. "I'll take it."
Staff writer Erin Blasko: email@example.com 574-235-6187
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