Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

November 28, 2012

Small Business Saturday success

U.S. consumers spent $5.5 billion with independent merchants.

Last weekend, wedged between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, more U.S. shoppers than ever patronized local independent businesses during Small Business Saturday.

One hundred businesses in Kokomo celebrated the event, which was created by American Express three years ago to help small businesses. Cardholders who made purchases with participating local businesses received a $25 rebate from American Express.

Consumer awareness of the shopping event jumped from 34 percent to 67 percent two weeks ago, according to a study released Tuesday by the National Federation of Independent Business and American Express. Of those aware, the study said 47 percent shopped on Small Business Saturday. Consumers aware of the event spent a reported $5.5 million with independent merchants.

Monty Henderson, business adviser at the Small Business Development Center, said big-box stores have an advantage in the holiday shopping rush because they have the deep pockets for advertising.

“Our small business folks don’t have the budget to make that kind of splash, so it’s nice to have that effort going on,” he said.

Henderson said he saw a definite uptick in local businesses participating in Small Business Saturday, and believes the event was well-received by Kokomo shoppers.

Sharon Murff, spokeswoman for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Indiana District Office, said the event is bigger than ever in Indiana, in part because businesses began promoting earlier.

“People were embracing it more,” she said. “A lot of it has to do with the economy. People are realizing that small business is the backbone for America.”

Tashia Johnson-St. Clair, owner of Sweet Poppins popcorn shop, said she’s been involved with Small Business Saturday for three years. She said the day didn’t bring much more business than usual, but has noticed customers focusing more on local businesses in recent years, especially for gifts.  

Kelly Herr, the owner of new women’s shop Herr Boutique, said many customers came in on Saturday.

“I saw an increase in customers that day who said they specifically came out for Small Business Saturday and were trying to support us,” she said. “It really helps us stay in business.”

Deborah Flowers, who runs Front Porch Pretzels in Kokomo with her husband, said they weren’t open on Saturday to celebrate the event, but encouraged customers to patronize other local businesses.

“I think people really are starting to realize that their patronage of places makes a huge difference in whether a place stays or goes,” she said.

Megan Graham is the Kokomo Tribune business reporter. She can be reached by phone at 765-454-8570 or by email at megan.graham@kokomotribune.com.

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