Small Business Saturday is the typically busiest day of the year for Laura Abernathy’s Conway stores.
“It just calls everybody’s attention to the fact that we have small businesses down here and that the small businesses depend on them,” said Abernathy, who owns two Fourth and Main locations, one specializing in home decor and the other offering furniture. “It just makes people think, ‘Hey, let’s go visit the small businesses instead of going to the mall.’”
Traditionally the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Small Business Saturday offers a contrast to the “Black Friday” mania at Big Box retailers. It focuses on the mom-and-pop shops and stores, the small businesses that make up 99.4% of South Carolina’s companies, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.
“We know it employs the most people in this country – Small Business USA,” said John Cassidy of Duplicates INK. “Without the support of the local community shopping local, there would be no small businesses and unemployment would be going up. We see that taking place with people closing up because of COVID.”
For some businesses, the economic pain of the pandemic has made this Small Business Saturday more important than in years past.
“This holiday season looks a bit different – and it’s likely going to be a tough one for small businesses and their customers. Let’s work together to empower business owners and encourage our communities to share joy and Shop Small safely,” the credit card company American Express said on their website.
American Express launched the Small Business Saturday campaign in 2010 in the midst of a recession to bring more holiday shopping to small businesses. Conway Downtown Alive was recognized this year and last year by American Express as a 2020 Neighborhood Champion for the cause.
American Express estimates that 62% of the small businesses in the U.S. need consumer spending to return to pre-COVID levels by the end of the year in order to stay in business.
“It’s more important this year than ever to remember to support our local businesses,” said Cassidy of Duplicates INK, which will have a special on outdoor banners to mark the day.
Tracy Pickens of the Haberdashery in downtown Conway said small businesses are the lifeline of a town.
“If you don’t support small businesses, you eventually won’t have a town,” he said. “If you don’t support us, we go away.”
Pickens plans to have a special involving a Brighton gift with purchase, as well as additional discounts on sale items on Nov. 28.
Small Business Saturday is not just about supporting the business, but also about relationships, Pickens said.
“There’s a personal touch to shopping local,” he said. “Like personalized gift wrapping. That does not happen when you go online. You develop a relationship with the community.”