Small Business Saturday gives local shops big opportunity

By: Emily Burris; ABC 7

Original Article Here

After you get home from hours of standing in line for that TV or fighting the crowds for a Furby, it’s time to think small.


Tomorrow is Small Business Saturday, the movement started several years ago as a way to support local stores that cannot compete with retail giants during the holiday hustle.

In 2015, shoppers spent more than $16 billion on small businesses.  That’s up 14% from the year before.

For hundreds of local shops, Small Business Saturday means new customers, and hopefully a bump in business.

“Some of them it is their first time visiting, others they don’t want to fight the crowd, so they’re just doing their Christmas shopping,” shop owner Vickie Maharrey said.

Maharrey co-owns He, She & Me, a fair-trade gift shop and boutique near downtown Fort Myers.

She says over the past several years, Small Business Saturday has become essential to their holiday business, especially in Southwest Florida’s seasonal economy.

Amanda Stirn is the Marketing Director on FGCU’s Florida Small Business Development Council.

She says one of the biggest problems many small business owners face is getting the word out to consumers about their products, especially when they’re up against the advertising of a lot of big box stores.

“You’ll be in downtown Fort Myers, and then walk right by them, and they have these great goods and services you wouldn’t find in your typical big retail giant stores,” she said.

FSDBC is featuring several local businesses in their shop small initiative online, hoping to bolster support for local business.

“It creates, our community,” Stirn explained, “When we shop small and in our community, we’re really helping our region in a big way, by helping invigorate the economy with tax revenue and job creation.”

Beyond the local support, shoppers like Lashaun Collier say it’s a chance to find something new and unique.

“They can really think about the customer experience and what it is they want to provide,” Collier said.

In Florida, small businesses employ about 3 million people. An FSDBC report found the majority of small businesses are owned by men, but women and minority-owned businesses are growing at a much faster rate.