Small Business Saturday is day to shop local

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot

Area merchants are excited about Small Business Saturday. It's a day for shoppers to visit the businesses in their own community. The Saturday after Thanksgiving, the day after the proverbial start to the Christmas shopping season on Black Friday, and right before Cyber Monday, has been set aside since 2010 for people to patronize brick and mortar businesses in their own backyards. It was started by American Express to invigorate the economy and keep communities thriving.

Joel Fridgen, executive director of the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber opted to promote the event to raise awareness of shopping local. 

“We are fortunate that Greencastle-Antrim has a variety of categories that can meet the needs of consumers and business-to-business. More than anything, “buying small” is a reminder that goes beyond the holiday shopping season and extends throughout the year. Our local businesses have a lot to offer and people who shop local have already made that discovery.  All a chamber business can ask for is the opportunity to have people walk through their door and then work to meet their need."

He invited people to shop at the G-A small businesses, stores and restaurants on Nov. 24. The chamber website greencastlechamber.org lists its members.

On board

Area merchants are on board with the initiative urging people to patronize G-A brick and mortar stores. They value the financial support of residents and cited a number of reasons why both sides benefit when people spend their money at home.

“The prices here are as good as elsewhere,” said Don Kline from his Used Books and Collectibles store. “Especially if you factor in the price of gas.”

Shannon Carbaugh chuckled that it made no sense to drive to another town, when Farmer’s Union Co-op had new things for sale, including a batch of crickets for $2.

In addition to saving on transportation costs, Sandy Spalding from Nearly New said people could meet and greet people from the community as they shopped.

Many noted that money spent in town stayed in town.

“Civically, people miss the concept that the money stays local,” said Loren Martin from ELM Shoes. “We employ local people. We give back to the community. Retailers have knowledgeable sales staff. You don’t have to hunt somebody down.”

Patty Harmon, Philips’ Seeds and Garden Center, explained the trickle down effect.

As determined by The 3/50 Project, of every $100 spent in independently-owned stores, $68 returned to the community in the form of taxes, payroll and other expenditures. If that spending went to a chain store, only $43 came back. And from online sales, no money came back home.

Harmon added, “Small towns wouldn’t be small towns without local businesses. And without them, the town dies.”

The 3/50 Project, a national movement started in 2009, encourages people to spend $50 each month in three locally-owned businesses that they would miss if the stores were shuttered. If half of Americans did that, the founders say, it would stimulate the economy by $42.6 billion each year.

Jan Martin, ELM Department Store, agreed with the concept. “The money spent here stays in the neighborhood in many ways. People are realizing the benefit of shopping local. And many businesses have a long history of serving customers. We’d love to be of help.”

Bradley Smith, BBS Jewelers, echoed that sentiment. “We are a full-service, locally owned and operated jewelry store with a convenient location in Greencastle, and a trustworthy staff with over 75 years of combined experience.”

Something special

The smaller stores in some ways have more to offer than the big box stores.

“We still have personalized service,” said Tammy Young, owner of Alternative Choices. “We can do special orders. And we have unique, off-the-wall gift ideas.”

MaryLou Sheeley from Gnomes, Gifts and Home Decor saw that small businesses were struggling and needed support. They were also the businesses that helped the community with its causes, such as Little League and other activities.

Adam Pentz, NAPA Auto Parts, saw the importance of patronizing the stores just up the street. “Most are mom-and-pop businesses, and they go out of their way to help you.”

Willowtree Gifts had unique items that couldn’t be found at the mall, said Lisa Shaffer. “It’s better to give your money to a small business than big chain stores.”

Ruth Mowen and Pat Shew, Upscale Consignment Shop, saw a nice give and take. Shopping local supported the people who lived in the community, and “it shows how glad you are they are here,” said Shew.

Mowen added, “Upscale supports the sports and band programs, and it’s wonderful that the community supports us in kind.”

Jo Anne Eyer, Inner Beauty, noted that the independent businesses provided small, quaint and homey atmospheres. She stocked quality clothing and accessories with one-on-one service.

“We deal with each other face to face,” said Dawn Boscolo, Mikie’s Ice Cream and Green Cow Gift Shop. Shopping local offered a personal touch, she continued, and kept Greencastle thriving and prospering.

Cherie Weaver at Shoppes at Antrim Way is ready for SBS. “We have a number of unique gifts already discounted, and on Saturday give another 25 percent off.”

All of the merchants are hopeful for Saturday’s turnout, but also are optimistic that customers will shop Greencastle and Antrim first all year long.