Provided by Downtown Ocean Springs
If you haven’t finished (or even started) your holiday shopping, consider visiting a local store in your community on Saturday, Nov. 25, for Small Business Saturday.
Small Business Saturday is an American shopping holiday held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving during one of the busiest shopping periods of the year.
First observed in the United States on November 27, 2010, as an advertising campaign created for American Express, it is a counterpart to the all-popular Black Friday and upcoming Cyber Monday, which feature big retailers like Target or Best Buy and e-commerce stores, respectively. By contrast, Small Business Saturday encourages holiday shoppers to visit small brick-and-mortar businesses in their local areas.
According to American Express, an estimated 112 million consumers reported shopping at small businesses during the 2016 Small Business Saturday, up 13 percent from the year before. In addition, more shoppers reported visiting local independent businesses in 2016 more than ever before, and a record high of 72 percent of U.S. consumers were aware of the day.
For local businesses, however, the recognition of shopping small means much more than the sales.
Mickie Miller, who owns Two Dogs Dancing, a pet store in downtown Ocean Springs, said that she thinks more people are starting to see the benefits of shopping locally even outside of Small Business Saturday.
“The difference in shopping locally versus online is you’re able to walk in and try things on,” Miller said. “You can buy unique items and take them home with you that day.”
Miller said many of the items she features in her store cannot be found at big-box stores like Target, and that’s an extra benefit to shopping locally. She added that shopping locally adds a personal approach to shopping all year-round.
“If you come into my store, I can tell you everything about every single item,” Miller said. “I can help you find all the items and give you recommendations. It’s more of a personal connection.”
Maryalice Miner from Miner’s Doll and Toy Store agreed that the personal connection is what sets brick-and-mortar stores apart.
“People love to feel connected,” Miner said. “It’s satisfying to get back in your car and feel good and to know those people cared that you came into their store.”
After 30 years of owning Miner’s Doll and Toy Store, Miner said another benefit of shopping local is continuity.
“We’re here,” Miner said. “We’re always here. You can come and you’ll always find some good stuff. People know they can count on us.”
Miner said that the store also provides free gift wrapping, meaning people can come in, find a gift, have it wrapped for free and be out the door and on their way to a party. It’s special touches like these, she said, that keep people shopping locally.
Miner said that while bigger box stores and online shopping have their place, it’s all about people creating a balance of where they shop. She stressed that supporting local business is not only good for the businesses but for the community as a whole.
“We do depend on people coming in to shop,” Miner said. “It’s really worth it for people to make an effort to support their local business. We donate to the local charities, and we’re here for the community. It’s an investment for all of us to have that continuity of these stores. We’re really the treasures.”