Clark, Champaign County stores get in on Small Business Saturday

Small retailers in Clark and Champaign counties hope to grab a share of the estimated 164 million people nationwide who plan to go shopping over the Thanksgiving weekend as part of Small Business Saturday.

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Black Friday will remain the busiest shopping day of the weekend, according to a recent survey by the National Retail Federation. But 43 percent of shoppers who will be out this weekend plan to take part in Small Business Saturday, the survey said.

An annual study by the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants and the University of Cincinnati showed holiday retail spending in Ohio is likely to tick up about 2 percent this year compared to 2016, for a total of about $24 billion statewide. The Dayton region is expected to account for about 7 percent of that spending, although specific information for Springfield wasn’t included in the report.

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Champaign County has provided assistance to local businesses for Small Business Saturday for several years, but will take a more active role this year, said Lydia Hess, executive director of the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce. The chamber has distributed promotional materials for local businesses to help promote the event, Hess said.

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“We always promote local but this is our first year as an official partner,” Hess said of the event. “The chamber is always about promoting small business to any opportunities we have to highlight our local shop owners, the better.”

American Express began promoting the event in 2010 as small businesses struggled to recover from the recession. Last year, small business owners generated about $15.4 billion on Small Business Saturday nationally, according to American Express.

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Jacque Evrard, owner of Springfield Balloons, started her business this year from her home in Enon. The business specializes in decorating for events, including local grand openings, ribbon cuttings, parties and larger events like providing the Chamber of Greater Springfield’s Best of Springfield event this fall.

She’s helping promote the event at other local businesses by donating balloons that can be displayed inside stores.

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“I just want to market the Small Business Saturday concept to the community and try to get small businesses to work together and support each other,” Evrard said.

Downtown Urbana presents several options for shoppers, where small, locally owned businesses line the streets along Monument Square, said Jennifer Crews, an associate at One-Eleven, A Fashion Boutique. The store specializes in women’s clothing and leather accessories.

“Our town is several small businesses so you can go to several small businesses while you’re here, not just one,” Crews said. “There are several opportunities here.”

In Springfield, the Small Business Development Center also has encouraged participation in the event, Executive Director Rob Alexander said. A list of nearly 20 businesses have asked for help promoting the event, he said. Some businesses will offer extended hours, while others will offer discounts and specials through the weekend.

“The public had a reaction to Black Friday and wanted to not see small businesses get left out in the cold as big box retailers were raking in a lot of money on Black Friday and Cyber Monday,” Alexander said. “People care about small businesses. They want to see the local business owners succeed.”

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