The Phoenix Reporter and Item (http://www.phoenixvillenews.com)

Small Business Saturday puts the focus on small business

Annual Small Business Saturday encourages ‘shopping small’

By Donna Rovins, drovins@21st-centurymedia.com, @MercBiz on Twitter

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Small businesses across the region are getting ready for the holiday shopping season.

To help focus attention on small businesses, many business support organizations, businesses, and shoppers will take part in this year’s Small Business Saturday on Nov. 25. It is a day to encourage shoppers to think of their local businesses first — including retail, restaurants and service businesses.

“Small Business Saturday gives people an excuse to get out and support local businesses. It’s a reminder for people that small businesses are out there and helps people connect with business people as neighbors,” said Jessica Capistrant, president of the Phoenixville Regional Chamber of Commerce.

People can make a contribution by doing the shopping they were planning to do anyway, according to Eileen Dautrich, president of the TriCounty Area Chamber of Commerce. “Even if they just do a small set amount, we encourage people to spend it on small businesses.”

According to Mark Yoder, president of the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce, small businesses represent about 80 percent of the chamber’s membership.

“They are the backbone of our communities and it’s important to support them. It’s awesome to have this focus on small businesses on Saturday,” he said. “There are great specials you can get at big box stores on Black Friday — but the things you can get from small businesses are different and unique.”

Small Business Saturday — launched in 2010 by American Express — recognizes and encourages shoppers to patronize small, local business owners.

Awareness of the day has reached 61 percent — the highest ever, according to the Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey, released last week by the National Federation of Independent Businesses and American Express.

It has grown to become a permanent fixture of the holiday shopping weekend. In 2016, 112 million people shopped small, up from 95 million in 2015, generating an estimated $15.4 billion according to the survey.

According to the data, 86 percent of shoppers said that Small Business Saturday inspired them to go to small retailers and restaurants that they haven’t been to before, or wouldn’t have otherwise tried.

“Many of our small businesses are just making it. That’s why it’s important for people to come out and support them,” said Sheila Dugan, Pottstown’s Main Street Manager said.

The Pottstown Downtown Improvement District Authority is a supporter of the initiative.

Dugan added that one of the things it’s important for people to know is that shopping local keeps more money in the community.

“One dollar can turn into many dollars when it stays in the community,” she said.

According to statistics, for every $100 spent, an estimated $68 stays in the local economy if it is spent at a small business, while $42 stays in the local economy if the money is spent at a “big box” store.

“Not only are you supporting small businesses, but they in turn support little league and pee wee teams — they’re part of the circle of life of our community,” Yoder said.

Small Business Saturday uses a network of champions across the country to help promote and support Small Business Saturday — 6,700 champions signed on in 2016.

This is the fourth year the TriCounty Area Chamber of Commerce has registered as a champion of the event across the tri-county region.

“The bulk of our membership is what can be described as small business. It’s one way to do our part to bring the message out to members, to share with their families and friends,” Dautrich said.

Capistrant said her organization has been promoting the event since 2011, and this is the second year it has had the official designation of champion.

“As a champion, one big thing is that we get materials. We received a number of tote bags, buttons and stickers that people like to put out, as well as banners and balloons. We packaged up a number of tote bags and had them delivered to businesses,” she said. Those materials can be seen across the region — in store windows and n social media.

Yoder added that this is the fifth year the West Chester chamber has been a champion for the event. He said the businesses have gotten more excited about the event every year.

“Things may have started a bit slowly, but that has changed. It really has been something that has gathered steam,” he said.

One of the newer organizations championing the Small Business Saturday initiative is the Norristown Chamber of Commerce. Formed just this year, the chamber wanted to get involved with the event right away, to begin building awareness of both Small Business Saturday and the chamber.

“We strive to support business in our neighborhoods. We chose to be a champion to be a cohesive force behind the effort,” said Teresa Parris, event coordinator for the chamber.

On Saturday, representatives from the Norristown chamber will be set up at Pauline’s Deli on Main Street in Norristown from 8 to 10 a.m.

“We’ll kick off there with a supply of goodie bags — gifts from local businesses including pens and coupons to get the word out to support local businesses. We’ll also have a local DJ and balloons,” Parris added.

In West Chester, the chamber and the West Chester Business Improvement District have teamed up to turn the one-day event into a shopping weekend.

There will be free parking at on-street meters and in metered lots starting on Friday and running through Sunday. Parking garages will be charging normal rates, according to information on the chamber’s website.

Pottstown has traditionally used Small Business Saturday as a kick-off to its Hometown Holidays celebration, and this year is no different. During Small Business Saturday, PDIDA will begin decorating the downtown shopping district for the holidays, and volunteers are welcome, according to Dugan.

Volunteers can meet at 10 a.m. at the PDIDA headquarters, 238 E. High St., Pottstown.

For a listing of discounts from downtown businesses and Small Business Saturday events in Pottstown visit www.downtownpottstown.org

For information about West Chester’s Small Business Saturday event visit www.greaterwestchester.com .

For information about the Phoenixville Regional Chamber of commerce visit https://phoenixvillechamber.org .

Email business story ideas to business writer drovins@21st-centurymedia.com