Black Friday isn’t what it used to be. That tradition was disrupted by COVID-19, and even before that, the public and businesses were hesitant about whether holiday shopping could wait until the pumpkin pies were delivered.
Today, most big box retailers are opting to stay closed on Thanksgiving and extend Black Friday by keeping their doors open for a week or more.
Meanwhile, Small Business Saturday, created by American Express, continues to attract attention and attention.
The commemoration got off to a modest start in 2010, when consumers spent an estimated $5.5 billion. By 2021, this total has grown to 23.3 billion.
Kyle Churman and his wife Lauren Shoemaker, who have owned Werner Books in Liberty Square since March, said he was looking forward to this year’s sandwich in black Retail commemoration between Friday and Cyber Monday.
Chulman expects to receive a small cut of the revenue and goodwill generated by the day’s shopping at independent retailers across the country.
But he firmly believes it’s up to him to win the business.
That’s why he works hard to understand his customers’ preferences, the types of books they read and the gifts they like to give.
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For example, this led him to focus on the value of bundled prepackaged books, coffee mugs and coffee or tea to provide affordable exchangeable gifts.
In addition to discounts and sweepstakes baskets, Churman and Shoemaker are hoping the $15 gifts will be in abundance when shoppers walk through the door on Saturdays.
“People seem to really like it,” he said.
But for Churman, winning customers’ business isn’t just about selling what they want to buy.
That means collecting books for local schools and supporting other small business owners by showcasing their wares.
“For us, Lauren and me, you can’t expect people to walk in the door just because you’re the local bookstore or the local gallery. In order to be a real community space, you have to actively work to be a part of that community” Chu Mann said.
“We’re all in this together,” he continued. “Can I get cheaper wholesale coffee? Maybe, but that’s beside the point. I hope the money goes to my neighbors and friends.”
Better than a typical Saturday
For Erie retailer Sarah Kim, Small Business Saturday means a lot.
“It’s very important. Not only is it the start, but we’re expecting three times the business on a normal Saturday,” said Kim, who owns three retail stores, including Nest by Lollie and Lollie & Co. in the West Village Shopping Plaza. Co. and Peter James of Lollie, both in the Colonial store.
Supporting local causes is the mark of a good small business, King said. But that’s only part of her mission.
“Our vision is to bring really great brands at the right price point,” she said. “It’s very important to us to earn our customers’ trust by selling honestly. I think we’ve done that.”
Kim says Saturdays are an opportunity to highlight what her store has to offer.
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That means well-stocked shelves, gifts for returning customers and special offers for customers who download the Lollie app on their phones.
“It’s a great showcase for small businesses,” she said. “This is my chance to be at my best.”
While many individual small businesses are preparing for their day in the spotlight, several organized efforts are underway to draw attention to small businesses and entrepreneurs in Erie.
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Dozens of crafters and entrepreneurs selling food and gifts will be set up inside the Boston store on Saturday at the event sponsored by Erie’s downtown partners.
Also on Saturday, the Sisters of St. Joseph Neighborhood Network will serve 30 participating small businesses in the Federal Hill, Little Italy and Parade Street neighborhoods as what it calls Neighborhood Champions.
Customers who visit at least four retailers in these neighborhoods on Saturday will be eligible to win over $500 in gift certificates and merchandise from participating merchants.
Susannah Faulkner, Director of Development at The Sisters of St. Louis. The Joseph Neighborhood Network said she hopes the annual commemoration will help draw attention to small businesses.
“We want to see more people out shopping, whether it’s this Saturday or another time,” she said. “This is an opportunity to invest in the local community.”
Mabel Howard, owner of Cafe 7-10, at 7 W. 10th St. in the Blasco library, said she expects more people to come Saturday.
“I believe any opportunity is a good day, especially around the holidays,” she said. “People want to spend more, offer more, support more people. Now is a great time to grow your business.”
Howard said she is happy with the returns her business has provided.
“We’re giving them something they can’t get elsewhere,” she said. “We provide them with baked goods that they may not have the time or skills to make at home.”
Howard, who only opened more than three years ago, said she doesn’t take any customers for granted, not on Small Business Saturdays or any other time.
“Every client counts, every time,” she said. “These things keep our doors wide open.”
Spread love, send cash
Chulman said he and his wife discussed hosting events that might encourage customers to stay longer on Saturday.
Ultimately, they decided against it.
“I really hope people don’t hang around in the sense that I want people to go to a bunch of small businesses,” Chulman said. “I want them to go downtown, I want them to go to Colonial, I want them to go to the West Village.
“That’s the point,” he continued. “I really want people to get out and about and go to small businesses that they love all day long. I really hope we can all share a little bit of that success.”
Contact Jim Martin at email@example.com.