Business Owners Say There Are Plenty of Reasons To Shop Local

By Addison Speck and Katie Mills Giorgio, Reporters

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - On the day after the day after Thanksgiving, local small businesses want shoppers to think local and to think small.

The Small Business Saturday initiative asks shoppers to pledge to patronize locally owned small business on the Saturday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The concept was started by American Express last year.

"Independent retailers have holiday promotions just like big box stores, but I think Small Business Saturday is a great way for local businesses to get their holiday promotions out in a way that differs from flashy and expensive Black Friday advertising," said Claire Richmond, marketing coordinator at Culvers Garden Center and Greenhouse in Marion.

"There is a lot of momentum around the idea," said Catherine Champion, owner of Catherine's Boutique in Iowa City.

This holiday season, Champion's clothing shop, Hands Jewelry and Prairie Lights Books created December the Holiday Pop Up Shop. The shop — at 30 S. Clinton St. in Iowa City and open only for this holiday season — features gift items from each of the three stores, as well as handcrafted items made by local artists.

According to the 3/50 Project, a national initiative that's promotes locally owned, bricks-and-mortar businesses, for every $100 spent at a local retailer, $68 stays in the community. Contrast that with $43 kept in town when shopping at a national chain and zero dollars from online purchases, and Small Business Saturday could have a noticeable impact on a local economy.

"Small Business Saturday is about Main Street, not Wall Street," said Dan Danner, president and CEO of the National Federation of Independent Business, in a prepared statement. "It's about entrepreneurs and families selling things that the chains and e-commerce companies aren't.

"The chain stores are owned by bigger companies that are probably based somewhere other than your hometown, but small businesses are usually owned by your neighbors. When you shop at a small business, you're supporting your local economy and your local job base."

And while small retailers may not be able to compete with ultra Black Friday bargains, they can compensate in terms of customer service and those little extras, local retailers contend.

At Culver's, for example, Small Business Saturday customers can sample complimentary coffee, cocoa and baked goods while shopping for holiday décor items and greenery.

"Locally-owned businesses are truly invested in their communities and will sometimes go the extra mile with a customer and know them well," said Astrid Bennett, marketing director and one of the owners of Iowa Artisan's Gallery in Iowa City.

For more information about Small Business Saturday, go to www.smallbusinesssaturday.com or click here.
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