By Mary O’KEEFE
Small Business Saturday was Nov. 25 and across the country, including in Montrose, shoppers showed their support for “mom and pop” businesses.
“We’ve seen so many folks in the store sharing the love of shopping small and supporting our bookstore with a purchase, including meeting NY Times number one authors and getting autographed copies of best selling titles,” said Maureen Palacios, owner of Once Upon A Time bookstore in Montrose.
Big box businesses and online companies promote Black Friday sales and ongoing holiday “specials.” They have a lot of funding for advertising and although some of these large stores donate to non-profits it is small businesses that a survey found are the backbone of consistent support for their community.
“Big box stores don’t have the charm, personality or, in our case, a gift of a dark chocolate Christmas mouse to make shopping experiences memorable and joyful,” said Palacios.
In December last year, MetLife and the U.S. Chamber of Small Business Index asked small business owners about how active they are in community engagement.
“Despite lingering economic concerns, most small businesses give back. In fact, eight in 10 (80%) say that their business has a clearly defined mission that includes giving back to their local community,” according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The survey found that 91% of small business owners say businesses should give back and they take action to give back to their communities.
The survey also found that 70% had encouraged employees to shop at local small businesses, 66% had donated to local charities over that past year, 64% said they sponsored or donated goods/services to local events and 56% said they offered discounts to certain groups within the community like teachers or veterans.
Representatives of schools and non-profits know that it is the local business owner, many who have children in nearby schools, who will offer donations to support their community.
According to Adobe Analytics, shoppers spent 7.5% more money this year than last year during Black Friday, and Small Business Saturday has also become more popular with shoppers.
Small Business Saturday was launched by American Express in 2010 and in 2011 the Senate passed a resolution officially recognizing the Saturday after Thanksgiving as Small Business Saturday. Although Small Business Saturday is becoming more popular, the support for “mom and pop” stores needs to continue. Small businesses are improving and becoming more stable after the knockdown, and in some cases knockout, due to the pandemic but it is still a struggle for many small businesses as rents continue to rise and overall costs increase.
On Saturday, Montrose Shopping Park had a spinning wheel at the corner of Ocean View Boulevard and Honolulu Avenue. Shoppers who spent $50 or more within the shopping park were invited to spin the wheel for deals and gifts.
“We had a huge response at the spinning wheel,” said Dale Dawson, Montrose Shopping Park Association (MSPA) events coordinator. “We gave out all of the store specials, all the mugs and T-shirts on hand, tote bags and scrip … folks loved it.”
The MSPA sponsors a variety of holiday entertainment on the weekends along Honolulu Avenue including free horse drawn carriage rides and on Saturdays there are free pony rides for kids, music ensembles throughout the shopping park and Santa strolling by.
Palacios, who has served the area for decades, acknowledged the power of the shopper and the appeal of the shopping park.
“I shop at Costco, but would I call that experience joyful or relaxing? Hah!” she said. “But here in Montrose, that is what you get – and why generations of customers keep coming back.”