By Tim Jimenez
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Saturday marks another shopping “holiday” in the country. For the third year in a row, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, coined Small Business Saturday by American Express, is dedicated to the mom and pop businesses in the area and across the country.
“Small businesses can compete with the big box stores by having a different type of product, by having better service or by being more convenient,” said Dave Dickson, district director of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) of Eastern Pennsylvania.
The credit card company first introduced the concept in 2010 to put small businesses in the spotlight during the busiest shopping weekend of the year. Awareness for last year’s Small Business Saturday jumped 38 percent from the year before according to Michelle Dolberry, head of strategic initiatives with Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), a non-partisan organization that advocates for women and minorities in business and is leading the Small Business Saturday Coalition made of 159 advocacy organizations.
“Main Streets” and the small businesses that make them up across the country are taking part, excited for an opportunity to show what they offer. Haddonfield in Camden County is just one of the local towns participating.
“(Shoppers) see what’s available and how there’s so many neat and interesting things up and down the block and we’re one of them,” said Bernadette Hennessy May, owner of Rhinoceros Gamery and Toy Store in downtown Haddonfield.
Last year’s holiday shopping season was their first in Haddonfield (Her sister owns the original store in Jenkintown.)”I can’t tell you how many people came in and said, ‘Oh yeah, we didn’t even know you were here and we’re just walking because of Small Business Saturday,'” she said.
The same can be said for Busy Bee Toys, located in downtown Doylestown, Bucks County. Owner Nerice Kendter says small shops like hers focuses on a personal touch that is not found in large retailers.
“I hand pick each and every item that I bring in. My staff and I will walk people through the store, assisting them in picking out just the right gift,” she said. “(Customers) are getting the personalized attention that they’re not going to get from the computer screen or the big box stores. It really is a wonderful shopping experience.”
Revenue is important, WIPP says some businesses reported they quadrupled their sales last year on this day, but to Kendter it is also a chance to build relationships with neighbors and show off and help the community she lives in and loves.
“We in turn are making donations to local organizations. We are supporting our local schools. So, it really is a give-and-take relationship,” she said.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) says one in every two people work for or own a small business in the country. The agency, which does not officially sponsor Small Business Saturday, is excited for the economic jolt the day could bring.
“Make it happen guys!” said Dickson. “It’s small business that’s going to bring us out of the economic dilemma that we’re in.”