CHARLESTON, W.Va. — “Slammed” is what one Marion County business owner said she was hoping to be on Small Business Saturday in her store, Craft Connection in Fairmont.
“Last year, it was just phenomenal — the response and the support from the community,” said Dana Summers. “(We saw) A lot of regulars, a lot of new people that were just out shopping for Small Business Saturday.”
At a time when more and more people are shopping online, Elisa Payne, owner of Eggplant, a store dubbed “Anything but Ordinary” located in Charleston’s Bridge Road Shops, said it’s nice to have a day dedicated to businesses like hers.
“It also sets the tone for the rest of the season, so there’s a lot of good energy that comes from that weekend,” Payne told MetroNews.
Businesses throughout West Virginia will be participating in Small Business Saturday on Nov. 25 which is a national effort, with American Express as a sponsor since 2010, encouraging people to “Shop Small.”
About 98 percent of all of West Virginia’s businesses are considered small businesses, according to the latest designations from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
This year, the West Virginia Small Business Development Center partnered with the SBA in West Virginia and Main Street West Virginia to promote Small Business Saturday through a social media campaign, #shopsmallWV, and owner training.
“I think there’s a growing awareness among the public that shopping local is very important to the economy, not only for the business owner, but also for the neighborhood as a whole,” said Erika Bailey, state director for the West Virginia Small Business Development Center.
Throughout the year, the center has 17 coaches working across West Virginia to provide technical assistance to current small business owners along with potential future small business owners.
More information about the available free business coaching is available HERE.
“When the neighborhood and the community supports our small businesses, we create an environment that everybody is much more likely to want to be a part of,” Bailey said.
For Summers, who has owned Craft Connection for four years, the holiday shopping season began with an open house in early November.
How the season goes through December, she said, has an effect on the entire year. “It sort of carries you through and enables you to buy for the rest of the year,” she said.
From now into the New Year at Eggplant, “It’s just busy,” Payne said. “Where we’re small business owners, generally we’re the ones that are doing all the work for advertising and all the work for ordering, so it just gets really busy.”
She said she considers all of West Virginia “local” for customers.
“We listen to our customers and see what kind of products they’re interested in and just try and keep finding unique stuff that they wouldn’t find anywhere else,” Payne said.
Summers said she does the same in Fairmont.
“I’m a gift shop and there’s not a lot of shops here where you can just run in and pick up a birthday gift for someone or some home decor. Here locally, there’s not a lot of shopping,” she said.
“I try to just carry unique items, locally made. I do order a lot of things, but if I can find something made in West Virginia then I certainly promote it here.”
Last November, American Express estimated 112 million people nationwide shopped locally on Small Business Saturday.