Ready, set, shop!

November 21, 2012
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Here’s a news flash for those of you who have been hiding under a rock for the past month: Black Friday is upon us. Let the conspicuous consumption begin.

But before you blow the holiday budget on Midnight Madness deals and Tryptophan Thursday specials, independent shop owners want to make sure you know about Small Business Saturday.

Scheduled for Nov. 24, the three-year-old event sponsored by American Express is a pep rally of sorts for small retailers at risk of getting overlooked in the holiday frenzy.

I talked to more than a half-dozen local store owners this week, and every one of them said the promotion has increased consumers’ awareness—and their sales. (Click here for my story on what they're doing to attract shoppers.)

That’s particularly important now, when business is brisk enough to help retailers turn a profit for the year.

Homespun: Modern Homemade owner Amanda Taflinger, for example, said she uses proceeds from the holiday season to pre-pay rent on her Irvington shop and save cash to survive slow summer months.

“This is a critical time of year for us,” she said.

Results of the annual Small Business Consumer Insights Survey released this month showed that 67 percent of consumers aware of the promotion planned to “shop small” on Saturday. That’s up from 44 percent last year, according to American Express and the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

Small retailers offer a different shopping experience than most big-box stores, and supporters say their success has more of an impact on the community.

Organizers of the national 3/50 Project say for every $100 spent in locally owned stores, $68 returns to the community—versus $43 for the same $100 sale in a chain.

The initiative, launched in 2009, aims to “save the brick and mortars our nation is built on” by encouraging consumers to spend a total of $50 each month at three independent businesses.

According to the number crunchers, if half of the employed population followed that advice, it would generate more than $42.6 billion in revenue.

What’s your take on the “shop local” movement?  Will you patronize a small retailer this holiday season?

 

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  • Pop-ups
    My best wishes to those entrepreneurs making a go of it during these still challenging economic conditions. I was especially heartened to see "pop-ups" in long vacant storefronts downtown, like the small store on College Ave at Mass Ave, just around the corner from the restaurant 45 Degrees.

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  1. I took Bruce's comments to highlight a glaring issue when it comes to a state's image, and therefore its overall branding. An example is Michigan vs. Indiana. Michigan has done an excellent job of following through on its branding strategy around "Pure Michigan", even down to the detail of the rest stops. Since a state's branding is often targeted to visitors, it makes sense that rest stops, being that point of first impression, should be significant. It is clear that Indiana doesn't care as much about the impression it gives visitors even though our branding as the Crossroads of America does place importance on travel. Bruce's point is quite logical and accurate.

  2. I appreciated the article. I guess I have become so accustomed to making my "pit stops" at places where I can ALSO get gasoline and something hot to eat, that I hardly even notice public rest stops anymore. That said, I do concur with the rationale that our rest stops (if we are to have them at all) can and should be both fiscally-responsible AND designed to make a positive impression about our state.

  3. I don't know about the rest of you but I only stop at these places for one reason, and it's not to picnic. I move trucks for dealers and have been to rest areas in most all 48 lower states. Some of ours need upgrading no doubt. Many states rest areas are much worse than ours. In the rest area on I-70 just past Richmond truckers have to hike about a quarter of a mile. When I stop I;m generally in a bit of a hurry. Convenience,not beauty, is a primary concern.

  4. Community Hospital is the only system to not have layoffs? That is not true. Because I was one of the people who was laid off from East. And all of the LPN's have been laid off. Just because their layoffs were not announced or done all together does not mean people did not lose their jobs. They cherry-picked people from departments one by one. But you add them all up and it's several hundred. And East has had a dramatic drop I in patient beds from 800 to around 125. I know because I worked there for 30 years.

  5. I have obtained my 6 gallon badge for my donation of A Positive blood. I'm sorry to hear that my donation was nothing but a profit center for the Indiana Blood Center.

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