No “Small” effort; Small Business Saturday rakes in support for local businesses

Published 7:19 am Tuesday, November 27, 2018

As the holiday season is well underway, local business owners saw a flurry of customers during Small Business Saturday.

Organized in 2010 by American Express, Small Business Saturday has become a yearly retail tradition that steers billions of dollars to independent stores and also raises awareness to shop locally. With shoppers turning to the internet to purchase goods, Small Business Saturday called for supporting local businesses.

Adobe Analytics, a data analysis company that looks into trends in mobile and web-based shopping, estimated that Americans will surpass $124 billion in online sales this holiday season, which was nearly 15 percent more than last year. Adobe stated that $400 million in Small Business Saturday sales came in by 7 a.m. last weekend.

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For Austin businesses, they saw a healthy boost in customers coming to shop and who focused on local establishments for their holiday shopping. Real Deals sold 170 tickets on Small Business Saturday, said Kim Underdahl, co-owner of Real Deals. For the business that was still fairly new to downtown Austin and had been consistently busy during the weekends, this past Saturday was “busier than usual.”

“It was a great day, and people were coming in and out,” Underdahl said. “We’ve been pretty lucky since we’ve opened. People were Christmas shopping and trying to get their gifts locally. I think it’s great as a business owner, and it’s great keeping business local and having that option.”

Shoppers check out Saturday at Sterling Main Street.

The Hardy Geranium also experienced a great Small Business Saturday, noting that there were increased sales of merchandise in-store, as well as apparel. There were also new patrons coming into the shop who haven’t visited the business before.

“It is a really good thing,” said Vicki Trimble, owner of The Hardy Geranium. “Small Business Saturday was absolutely wonderful. A lot of people haven’t been here before, and we had people coming in from out of town doing Small Business Saturday, and it was really good.”

Nationwide, Small Business Saturday was on track to set a new record of $3 billion in online sales, according to Market Watch. In the age of online shopping taking more precedence in holiday shopping, however, small-to-medium sized businesses continued to see avid support from patrons living in the community and made it a point to continue supporting local businesses.

There were also initiatives that were taking place such as the “Eat. Drink. Shop Austin” initiative that resulted in a T-shirt campaign that encourage shoppers to support small businesses during the holiday shopping season.

Lindsey Haney

Spearheading the initiative was Lindsey Haney, owner of The Style Lounge, who saw “record” sales for her business with a 17 percent increase from last year, as well as hearing about similar experiences from other business owners. She hoped that this momentum would carry throughout the year, and not just for the holidays.

“You can definitely feel a vibe,” Haney said. “It was pretty awesome. I noticed even on Facebook people committing to shopping local and posting pictures at the places they were going. …I’m really proud of how excited the community and the excitement this has created.”

That message continued to ring true for many people. For business owners, the support from the community continues to help local businesses to survive and is vital for success.

“Just keep in mind that for local businesses we need everyone’s support,” Trimble said. “We are local owners, and all our employees are local. I personally only do business locally myself, and I don’t remember the last time I’ve left town to go shopping, even in Rochester … I know it’s hard to find things in Austin, but if customers don’t participate locally, they won’t have anything locally.”