Once again, the Saturday after Thanksgiving — Nov. 25 this year — has been declared “Small Business Saturday,” the day when consumers can power down their online activity and hit locally owned stores for special sales and community-specific inventory.
“For us, any attention drawn to small businesses is important. We don’t have a national voice,” says Bridget Quinn Stickline, the owner of Wee Chic in Green Spring Station.
Stickline is in a back room of her shop, surrounded by racks of colorful and on-trend clothing ready for the mini models who will wear them in a fashion show the next day. But her attention is on a tiny, hand-crafted headband with felted ears and a gilded unicorn horn that she holds up in appreciation.
It’s the fanciful and well-made creation of a local crafter whose wares will now be featured in Stickline’s shop and a great example of why she likes small businesses — and why she runs one.
“There is a lot of product mix that consumers aren’t exposed to,” she says.
But businesses like hers do have a community voice. While her back room is fashion show-ready, just one week earlier, it was filled with 14,000 diapers and 7,100 wipes for Houston families affected by Hurricane Harvey. Stickline, along with the owners of Green Spring Station’s Becket Hitch and Share Baby, a local diaper bank that Wee Chic frequently collaborates with, partnered together to send money and diaper products. The big response didn’t surprise Stickline, who says there is mightiness in her shop’s small size.
“We have the ability to react quickly because we are here in the community,” she says. “We have an engaged audience of clients.”
In 2010, American Express first sponsored Small Business Saturday and offered rebates to customers who supported local merchants on that day. Their effort has been commendable, says marketing consultant Mikey Monaghan, who has spent most of her career promoting small businesses.
“People understood the local food movement, but didn’t understand boutiques,” Monaghan says.
Three years ago, Monaghan, who counts Green Spring Station among her clients, introduced a Small Business Saturday incentive there. For every $200 shoppers spend in same day sales, they receive $25 to spend at the store of their choice after the holidays.
Monaghan says she and her husband try to shop locally as much as they can.
“I don’t want to see this go away. I want to be able to touch and feel and I can’t imagine not being able to talk to a salesperson,” she says, adding, “Who doesn’t want a great community space in their neighborhood?”
In Fells Point, traffic definitely picks up on Small Business Saturday, says Susan Singer, owner of Party Dress. “A lot of people come out to support our businesses on the day.”
Singer has owned her shop for nine years and another Fells Point business for 11 years before that. Being her own boss has been one big advantage of her entrepreneurship, but she has enjoyed the customers as well and plans to show her appreciation on Nov. 25 with the usual sales and specials, but also food, drink and balloons.
Image courtesy of the Wee Chic Boutique Instagram.