Triangle businesses benefit from Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday creates opportunities to draw in holiday customers

vbridges@newsobserver.comNovember 19, 2012 

  • Small Business Saturday Small Business Saturday is Nov. 24 and serves as the kickoff to the holiday shopping season for independent retailers and restaurateurs. The day was created in response to small business owners’ most pressing need: more customers. Online For more information, go to For local deals, go to or

— Layers of local style fill the posh Vert & Vogue boutique in Durham.

Jeans by Raleigh Denim are displayed on tables. Durham jeweler Ashley Brodie’s Swarovski crystal earrings and necklaces catch the sunlight as they dangle on display. And soft, hand-sewn leather handbags made by Durham’s Mill & Bird hang throughout the store.

Nabira and Ryan Hurley’s eco-chic shop offers locally produced contemporary pieces for men and women, something they hope will convince shoppers to support the Hurleys’ small business and others like it on Small Business Saturday and throughout the holiday shopping season.

“It’s the biggest two months of the year,” Ryan Hurley said. “So it is absolutely essential.”

About 25 percent of the store’s annual income is made during November and December, Ryan Hurley said.

American Express founded Small Business Saturday, which falls on Nov. 24 and is tucked between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, in 2010 as a way to help increase traffic in independent shops on one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year.

Nearly half of independent merchants across the country plan to incorporate Small Business Saturday into their holiday season strategy, according to a survey released by the National Federation of Independent Businesses and American Express. And 67 percent of independent merchants say they will offer discounts.

Of those small business owners planning to promote Small Business Saturday, 80 percent expect a year-over-year boost in sales on that day, according to the survey, and discounts and special offers are key incentives to encourage consumers to “shop small.”

Community benefits

Scott Krugman, an American Express spokesman, said the company established the shopping day after small business owners expressed a need for more customers as they were coming out of the recession.

“If the county is going to recover at a faster pace, it is going to do so because of the success of small business owners,” Krugman said. “If they are successful, they will expand. They will create more jobs, and everyone benefits from that.”

Smaller retailers return a total of 51.1 percent of revenue to the local economy, while national chains, such as Barnes & Noble and Target, return an average of 13.6 percent of revenue within the market that hosts the store, according to an impact study by Civic Economics of Austin, Texas. The research firm compared the economic impacts of independent, locally owned businesses in Raleigh with major national chains.

Beyond the national campaign, American Express has provided business owners with tools, such as customizable marketing material, tips and opportunities to increase their presence on social media, Krugman said.

And as a bonus for consumers on Small Business Saturday, the company is offering a $25 credit to American Express cardholders who spend at least that amount at a small business that accepts the American Express card. Supplies are limited, and cardholders must register online at

Local efforts, such as Sustain-a-Bull and Shop Local Raleigh, have built on Small Business Saturday’s momentum by promoting stores and their deals. The two groups are key as small businesses compete against the big-box stores and online retailers, Hurley said.

“You don’t think about it unless somebody brings it to your attention,” said Margaret Wood Cannell, executive director of the Hillsborough/Orange County Chamber of Commerce.

Bull City shopping

Vert & Vogue and 40 other Durham businesses plan to participate in Sustain-a-Bull’s holiday campaign, which starts on Small Business Saturday and runs through Dec. 2.

“Locally owned businesses all over town will be offering special discounts and promotions to encourage people to keep their money in our local economy this holiday season,” said Amy Campbell, program coordinator for Sustain-a-Bull, a nonprofit Independent Business Alliance. “We expect this to be the biggest event yet.”

Sustain-a-Bull is marketing the event and businesses’ specials on its website (, on posters and in emails, and is encouraging its members to promote the shop local brand, Campbell said.

Some businesses are extending their hours during the week and through the season to maximize their returns. Vert & Vogue will open on Sunday, a day the shop is normally closed. And Frog Hollow Outdoors will extend its consignment store hours during Sustain-a-Bull’s holiday campaign week.

Deals in Raleigh

The holiday campaign for Shop Local Raleigh, an arm of the Greater Raleigh Merchants Association, is promoting local stores on Small Business Saturday, distributing a local holiday shopping guide and offering coupons.

“The point is to get consumers to think about shifting their spending,” said Jennifer Martin, Shop Local Raleigh’s executive director. “If every household just shifted 20 percent, think about the greater impact that would be in our community.”

Cynthia Deis, owner of Ornamentea, a craft and jewelry making supply store in Raleigh, said she has benefited from Small Business Saturday and Shop Local Raleigh by reaching customers who had heard about her shop through the American Express campaign. To get consumers in the shop on Small Business Saturday, Ornamentea will offer discounted projects and holiday crafting classes.

Cary’s Joint Venture Jewelry Store and its sister shop Peachy Keen clothing boutique, Shop Local Raleigh members, will offer flash sales on items such as sterling silver jewelry and holiday dresses.

Small Business Saturday and Shop Local Raleigh give the family business, owned by Donna, Lee, Jen and Karly Hankin, a chance to make it in the ever-changing market, Jen Hankin said.

“It means that we are bringing awareness,” Jen Hankin said, “that small businesses really do have a chance to survive in this mass market.”

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