Sue Wright is keeping her fingers crossed that customers today will flock to her specialty shop for promotions geared to the second annual Small Business Saturday.
The event, the day after Black Friday and coming before the online-sales-focused Cyber Monday, is aimed at getting people to go to their local small, independent businesses instead of the big box retailers many shoppers pile into on the day after Thanksgiving.
Wright owns Wild Bird Center off Merz Boulevard in Fairlawn, a block away from, and in sight of, Summit Mall. The shop, which she and her late husband bought more than 14 years ago, has its niche in selling wild-bird-related items: food, feeders, houses, baths and more. Wright said she likes the idea of a small business-oriented holiday shopping event.
“I hope the day helps a lot of us,” Wright said. “Traditionally, the [Black Friday] weekend is not a big one for us.”
Wright is among business owners in the Greater Akron area who signed up for the American Express- and Facebook-sponsored event and is promoting it to customers. Nationally, Small Business Saturday is getting a lot of television and radio commercial exposure. American Express set up promotional Facebook websites and is enticing shoppers with the promise of a $25 credit if they sign up and shop at a participating local store and spend at least $25 using an American Express card.
“If it gets you a customer, it’s worth it,” Wright said. This is typically the busiest time of year for her store, she said.
“It’s just a fun, neat business,” she said.
She noted with a laugh that unlike some major retailers where shoppers lined up days early to score bargains on Friday, “we don’t have anybody camping out here.”
Also taking part will be Barnes Sewing Center on State Road in Cuyahoga Falls. Bob Barnes, who has owned the shop for 32 years, said he learned about the Small Business Saturday promotion fairly recently and decided to sign on.
“I just think it’s a good idea. ... It’s good for the consumer and good for the business,” he said. “Being a small business owner, you really can’t compete with the large box stores.”
Some shoppers at Summit Mall in Fairlawn on Black Friday said they also planned to shop on Small Business Saturday.
Amy Heyn, 33, the mother of a 5-month-old, said she was planning on shopping today at the Tadpoles & Tiddlers store at nearby Ghent Square. “They have little specialty items you don’t find in malls,” she said.
Ceil Cohen of Fairlawn, who was also out shopping at large retailers on Black Friday, said she would be out again for Small Business Saturday.
“My brother has a small business,” she said. “I believe in the small business.”
The marketing program is noted by organizations such as the Better Business Bureau and Consumer Reports. The Better Business Bureau for the Greater Akron area urged people to support local businesses.
Consumer Reports said its shopping surveys find that independent stores regularly score higher with shoppers than chains do. People looking to buy electronics told Consumer Reports that independent stores score higher than chain stores in all ways except price. Consumer Reports said its survey showed people more often are able to negotiate lower prices or get extras from the independents instead of chains.
Wright has been promoting Small Business Saturday with signs in her window and inside the store.
“I’m trying to make people aware of it,” she said. “I’m anxious to see what it does.”
Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544 or firstname.lastname@example.org.