Small business Saturday in Springfield

Small businesses in Clark, Champaign counties gear up for uptick in holiday shopping

Several small business owners and local officials in Clark and Champaign counties say they are preparing for an uptick in sales on Small Business Saturday and during the holiday season.

Some stores as well as business organizations that talked to the News-Sun said they hope to attract more customers this year through holiday deals, special events and sales, that in some cases, will continue up until the end of December.

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Small Business Saturday today, created and promoted by American Express since 2010, is designed as a way to bring more business into local stores.

Rob Alexander, with the Springfield Development Center, said Small Business Saturday has traditionally been associated with the retail sector and is a response to events that are usually associated with larger retailers such as Black Friday.

“It’s a great way to remind people that you have options in your own backyard. That there are locally owned businesses that make great products,” he said.

Alexander said there are small businesses in the city that do participate and some have used promotional materials associated with the event. However, he said it does not play a large part in their overall marketing or advertising strategy.

Instead, he said the main focus locally is to raise awareness about small retailers and encourage more people to shop at those businesses year round.

For others, the event is tied into the holiday shopping season, as they hope to attract more people to shop small for their holiday gifts.

Roy Kegley, who co-owns Abe’s Hidden Treasures along with Austin Winfield in New Carlisle, said there has been an uptick in sales during the holiday season over the past few years.

As for Small Business Saturday, he said he feels that more people have become aware of the event and he has noticed more new faces in his shop each of the four years he has participated.

Abe’s Hidden Treasures, at 100 E. Jefferson St., opened in 2012 originally selling mostly used goods. It has since transitioned to new retail items such as candles and home decor. Kegley said his store usually runs special sales for the event.

This year, he said they are floating around the idea of allowing customers to draw discount cards out of a bag when they purchase items. He said those discounts would range between 10 to 25% off.

In South Charleston, downtown business owner Jennifer McKee said she usually has sales geared towards Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. This year, she said she will be offering 10% off all items at Vintage Chic, a vintage retail store she opened with her daughter Karman McKee Ogden at 17 S. Chillicothe St.

They also have coffee shop Village Cop in an adjacent building. They will be offering bagels Saturday to the breakfast crowd and soup during lunchtime.

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McKee said the holiday ramp up begins for them at the start of November. The village also holds an annual Christmas event on the first Wednesday in December from 4 to 8 p.m.

She said that a lot of businesses participate, offering promotional deals, extended business hours and several places are offering cookies and hot chocolate to shoppers.

In Champaign County, free gift guides featuring items from local businesses will be displayed on screens, said Sara Neer, the executive director for the county’s chamber of commerce.

She said it is part of the Shop Local, Shop Small campaign and they are working with a local organization called We Spend Local.

Another promotion, she said, is that the chamber is offering free gift wrapping for anyone who purchases holiday gifts from local shops. Neer said free gift wrapping will be available at their office, at 127 W. Court St., Urbana, during business hours and will run until Dec. 30.

All shoppers need to do is provide a receipt showing that they purchased those items from local shops. She said they will also be offering that service to those at Mechanicsburg’s Christmas in the Village event on Dec. 14.

According to American Express, for every dollar spent at a small business, approximately 67 cents stays in the local community.

American Express reported an estimate of $103 billion in Small Business Saturday spending since the event began.

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