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home : business : business April 15, 2014

11/26/2012 3:16:00 PM
A Black Friday alternative
By Casey Merkwan

The day after Thanksgiving for some led to an early rise, frantic searching and standing in long lines. Black Friday shopping is typically done at big box stores. However, a relatively new opportunity to avoid the madness takes place the next day.

The shopping event is known as Small Business Saturday, where local businesses offer special deals the day after Black Friday.

Small Business Saturday began in 2010 and is sponsored by American Express. The goal is to help small businesses get more exposure during a popular shopping weekend.

Last year, more than 100 million people came out to shop at independently-owned small businesses on the day, according to American Express.

Becky Stacey, owner of Wintergreen Northern Gear in Wayzata, said not only does Small Business Saturday promote local business, but at her store customers can expect local products.

"The money that they spend in stores such as ours, or other ones that are in our area there, that money goes to us to hire people to spend money locally," she said. "We want to introduce our customers to more options that are American made and more unique than what you can get in a big box store."

Stacey said shopping locally gives customers the opportunity to be treated more personally.

"We personally appreciate each customer. They're just a number if they go to a big store," she said.

Barbara Hensley, founder of Hope Chest in Orono, said shopping at her store not only helps the local business, but the funds the store brings in also helps local families.

"A percentage of our revenue goes to provide emergency assistance to women and their families who need help that are going through breast cancer," she said. "For Small Business Saturday you're also shopping and making a difference. We often refer to it as guilt-free shopping."

Hensley said Hope Chest has a variety of gift items, perfect for Christmas shopping, so the opportunity to participate in Small Business Saturday helps them get on the market more.

"Recognizing small business and the contribution they make to the whole economy I think is the driving goal of Small Business Saturday," she said.

Small Business Saturday also allowed businesses to get creative and make an event of the day. Hope Chest held a raffle where participants drew from a bag and would get anywhere from 10 to 35 percent off.

Though Hope Chest opened for normal business hours, Hensley said people were lined up at the door excited to shop. Both the store's Orono and St. Paul locations exceeded projected sales by 20 percent.

"We were thrilled, we had so much fun," she said.

Todd Johnson at Pedal Wild in Spring Park said he used Small Business Saturday to offer one of the best deals they've had in two years.

Pedal Wild offered $49 for a 10-class package on Small Business Saturday only, which is normally $99.

"100 percent of our clientele lives within 10 miles of the studio. My wife and I both live locally, our kids go to school locally and we spend 90 percent of the money we've taken at Pedal Wild right back into the local community within 10 miles around us," Johnson said.

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