UPDATE: This post is written by Michael Tomberlin for Alabama NewsCenter. Learn more at: http://alabamanewscenter.com
Above: Sherry Hartley, co-owner of Alabama Goods, shows some of the store’s state-made items. (Michael Tomberlin/Alabama NewsCenter)
National retailers are touting their deals for Black Friday, but small, local companies believe they are the real deal when it comes to Small Business Saturday.
Since American Express started promoting local businesses as a holiday shopping destination the day after Black Friday in 2010, Small Business Saturday has emerged as a day for smaller shops and boutiques to capitalize on those things that set them apart.
Sherry Hartley is co-owner of Alabama Goods in Homewood. Her store is not only a small business looking forward to Saturday, but she carries items made by other small businesses in the state that stand to gain from her increased sales.
“Once American Express started it and then the concept caught on, we definitely saw an uptick in business,” she said. “We’re expecting a good Saturday.”
Be it roads, schools or parks, shopping with local businesses is of greater benefit to a community, according to the Alabama Retail Association.
“No matter the day of the week or time of the year, when you shop local, you are returning the most to a local economy,” Alabama Retail Association President Rick Brown said. “Including small, local retailers in your holiday shopping plans supports local salaries, other local businesses and local charities and causes.”
Hartley said she is aware of the impact.
“One of the statistics shows that three and a half times the dollars that are spent with a local business stays in the community more so than if you bought at a big box (retailer),” Hartley said. “Another percentage is that 48 percent is recirculated versus 14 percent with a big box. When those dollars add up, that has a real big impact on the community.”
According to the National Retail Federation’s research, one in four holiday shoppers are planning to “shop small” and purchase gifts and holiday items such as decorations and food at a small or local retail business this year.
By Nov. 1, about half of those planning to shop at small businesses for the holidays had already started their shopping, compared to 37 percent of those not planning to shop at small businesses, according to the NRF. Small-business shoppers said they shop small to more thoroughly enjoy the holiday experience.
As Hartley’s store shows, buying local can mean buying something different.
“Another reason to shop local is you’re going to find more interesting products,” she said. “Here at Alabama Goods, everything here is made in Alabama – handcrafted in Alabama. So you’re going to find some really unique products that you can’t find at any other store.”
As Small Business Saturday leads into Cyber Monday, Brown said not to forget that many Alabama retailers have an online presence as well.
“Shopping small doesn’t just mean shopping in-store,” Brown said. “Your holiday gifts also give back to your community and state when you shop online with local or Alabama-based retailers.”
Small Business Saturday is supported by Gov. Robert Bentley and the Alabama Small Business Commission. It is the latest support for small businesses from the commission.
Last month, the Alabama Small Business Commission joined Alabama Power, the National Federation of Independent Business/Alabama and the Alabama Public Service Commission to launch Small Business Solutions. The program offers refunds, incentives and other assistance for small businesses. Read more here.