Local business owners and community leaders came together briefly in L.J. Reischman Memorial Park Saturday, to kick off what has become popularly known as Small Business Saturday.
Representatives from the Roswell Chamber of Commerce and MainStreet Roswell were among the people who showed up at the park for a day that has become a cornerstone of the holiday shopping season, and a chance to emphasize the importance of supporting small businesses.
Mayor Dennis Kintigh, who was not at the Reischman Park event, signed a mayoral proclamation to observe the start of Small Business Saturday. Throughout the city, many businesses were holding sales, prize drawings and giving away door prizes for the occasion.
Kathy Lay, executive director of MainStreet Roswell, a nonprofit that works to keep the city’s downtown area vibrant, said the day is a way to encourage people to shop local.
“It gives us an opportunity to help remind people that if they shop with small businesses, it keeps the dollars local,” she said.
Small Business Saturday, also known as Shop Small Saturday, was a push started in 2010 by credit card company American Express to support small businesses and help local economies weather the Great Recession, according to the American Express website.
Lay said that today, people are often spending money in big box stores and online shopping stores, which do not keep money within communities, a phenomenon known as leakage.
“And it literally takes people’s paycheck and sends it someplace else. So it depletes the local economy. When we can shop local, we can support our neighbors and keep money local and that keeps our own economy strong and thriving,” Lay said.
Small Business Saturday in the last decade follows the Friday after Thanksgiving, known widely as Black Friday, which marks the start of the holiday shopping season for large retail chains teeming with herds of bargain-hungry customers.
Since Small Business Saturday took hold for many small stores, it is the Saturday and not the Friday after Thanksgiving when they are looking to start raking in the money from holiday sales.
“Since we have started doing Small Business Saturday, Black Friday turns out to be a regular day for us even though we were having the same sales,” Donald James, owner of Ancients of Days Rocks and Fossils shop.
Toni Pemberton, who co-owns Finishing Touches with her husband, said she doesn’t do anything on Black Friday, instead devoting their energies to Small Business Saturday.
At a time when it is the latest widescreen TVs, electronics and name-brand clothing that is at the top of everyone’s wish lists, Molly Boyles, president of MainStreet Roswell and owner of Once Again Consignment, said small business still plays an important role, not only in the holidays but year-round.
Their products are often more unique and personalized.
“We try to think, what is something unusual, something different? Not the big box store, not the same thing that everyone is getting Aunt Sue. So when you are looking for those unusual items, it’s usually your small businesses that carry those,” Boyles said.
Aside from products, small businesses often look to provide more quality service to customers such as free gift wrapping and more one-on-one attention that is more scarce in larger stores and malls.
“We just try to give the best service we can to our customers,” Pemberton said. “I am here almost every day and I know my customers and they know me.”
Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.