Tonawanda News — Tonawanda entrepreneurs are hoping residents take heed of the growing phenomena called Small Business Saturday, which is taking place across the country today.
Much like Black Friday, the industry-created event that has increasingly enticed shoppers to big box store sales earlier each year, Saturday’s affair also is gaining its own notoriety. The event was launched in 2010 by American Express to lure shoppers to mom and pop-run shops.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration nearly 70 million people purchased items last year at many of the nation’s 28 million small businesses, bringing in an estimated $5.5 billion.
And while the larger retailers rake in the bulk of the billions during the holiday season, small business owners often count on that time to survive another year.
Heather Kalisiak, 43, started Martinsville Emporium in 2011 along Niagara Falls Boulevard in North Tonawanda, and has seen a groundswell of traffic at her shop specializing in homemade soaps and lip balms. She said last year’s Small Business Saturday was her strongest yet, with more than 40 people in her store at any one time.
“It was my biggest day of the entire year,” she said. “I get half my sales through the year in November and December.”
Kory Schuler, who owns Sweet Briar Antiques on Broad Street in the City of Tonawanda, said he too has seen a wave of support for Small Business Saturday.
“The program has caught on and we’ve found it’s increasing every year,” he said. “As Black Friday has started earlier on Thanksgiving, customers are really embracing it. It’s a good thing. We try to encourage them to shop small 365 days a year. There’s a lot of local campaigns and national campaigns now. It really puts an emphasis on mom and pop shops.”
Kay Learned, who owns Hodgepodge on Webster Street in North Tonawanda, said she believes that American Express has thrown more of its weight behind the event with advertising, while the popularity of social media sites like Facebook also lend to awareness.