Commentary

Local Media, POTUS Boost Small Biz Saturday As Cyber Sales Soar

President Obama and daughters, Malia and Sasha, were among the consumers enticed to shop on Main Streets during the sixth annual Small Business Saturday this weekend as local media outlets in markets across the country cheered their readers and audiences on. 

“This is such a great idea, I cannot believe they haven’t done this before,” Jessie McShane, owner of Wool and Whiskey, tells Kate Raddatz of WCCO 4 in Minneapolis, where “customers not only get holiday deals on bikes” at One On One Bicycle Studio in the North Loop neighborhood but “also get to mingle with the owner’s ‘family.’”

The event was “especially important for some businesses in Columbia [S.C.] who are still working to recover from October’s floods,” reports Allie Spillyards on Live5news.com. “A dollar makes such a bigger difference locally than it does corporate," Karley Vehun, owner of Wildflower Boutique in Five Points, tells her.  

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Alyce Kosofsky purchased toys for her grandchildren at the A.L. Stickle Variety Store in Rhinebeck, N.Y., on Saturday because, she told the Poughkeepsie Journal’s John W. Barry, of its “old-time feeling. You can get anything you want. You don’t have that in very many places anymore.” And she wasn’t even aware of Small Business Saturday until the reporter informed her of its existence.

Meanwhile, the president purchased nine books at Upshur Street Books in Washington, D.C.. The experience was, of course tweeted on @POTUS. They then went to Pleasant Pops, which makes frozen fruit popsicles, according to the AP. While paying the $9 tab, the Shopper in Chief was heard to utter:  “What a bargain. This is the highlight of the girls’ Small Business Saturday.” 

American Express, which in recent years past has offered a statement credit of $10 to $30 to cardholders who patronized participating small businesses, did not do so this year.

“American Express said it would continue to promote Small Business Saturday through local and national advertising. It said 55% of U.S. consumers are aware of the day — the highest figure yet recorded in a survey done on AmEx's behalf,” Becky Yerak reports for the Chicago Tribune

Forbes contributor Nicole Leinbach-Reyhle, who is a small business owner herself, points out that there still is confusion about whether businesses need to accept Amex in order to participate in the promotion. They don’t. And “free marketing resources, event guides, online ads and more” were available at ShopSmall.com, for any Main Street enterprise to use.

“Last year, 88 million consumers shopped small on Small Business Saturday, up 14.9% from 2013, spending $14.3 billion at local and independent businesses. This year the hype and buzz surrounding the day seems to have only increased,” Leinbach-Reyhle writes.

Indeed, Matthew Redmond, a manager at Captain Candy in Northampton, Mass., tells 22 WWLP’s Tamara Sacharczyk that “the hype and buzz … seems to be catching on a little more each year.” Claims Redmond: “Instead of going to the large chain stores, they’ll come here. It’s more of a personal connection with the customer and the employees.” 

Many people also shopped local to help keep sales tax in the city, according to a report out of KJRH in Tulsa, Okla., where small shops in one mall issued a passport to shoppers. Anyone who had it stamped by five retailers was entered into a drawing for a gift certificate.

Meanwhile, the Chamber of Commerce in Conway, Ark., passed out “Shop Small” shopping bags. “People that talk about shop small, it kind of clicks in their brain, ‘oh, it is shop small,’ and it makes people want to go out and kind of see what the little small stores have,” EM Jeans owner Larry Rogers tells KTHV 11’s Astrid Solorzano.

Interestingly, 86% of Millennials agreed with the statement, “I wish that retailers didn't play games with pricing — I just want what I want at a fair price,” according to Ypulse’s annual shopping survey.

Meanwhile, it’s Cyber Monday. And as Sarah Mahoney reports below, shoppers are increasingly choosing to buy from the comfort of their own couches as e-commerce sales rose substantially over the holiday weekend.

As Ypulse also found, 77% agreed with the statement, “I enjoy the rush of buying something at a deep discount.”

Let the pricing games continue, IOW.

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