People encouraged to shop local on Small Business Saturday

Shoppers can find participating locations on website

Small Business Saturday is coming to a nearby street corner on Nov. 24.

The third annual Small Business Saturday, sponsored by American Express, aims to support small, locally owned businesses through its nationwide awareness campaign.

“Purchasing local from an independent small business owner has immediate impact on your community because not only do most proprietors live in the area where they work, they spend their money locally as well,” said Christine Pigsley, Dakota County Technical College entrepreneurship/small business instructor.

Pigsley should know.

She owned a women’s clothing store in Webster City, Iowa, before moving to Minnesota and working at the Rosemount college.

“Small business owners are the ones who step forward in our community and give to school fundraisers, volunteer for community and economic development projects, and they support local causes and needs,” she said. “There are no fancy applications or lengthy processes, they bring their checkbooks and give of their time because they are here in our communities and see the need first hand.”

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are nearly 28 million small businesses in the United States. They employ about half of U.S. workers and generated 65 percent of new jobs over the past 17 years.

Minnesota has over 400,000 small businesses and is starting new businesses at a rate of over 70,000 every year.

Small Business Saturday aims to capitalize on the culture of Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) when many major retailers have lines forming prior to opening. Black Friday is known for people having to battle crowds in order to find deals. But Small Business Saturday aims to be more relaxed.

Last year, over 100 million people came out to shop at independently owned small businesses on the day.

“I say: ‘Stay home after the turkey, sleep in late on Friday morning, and participate in Small Business Saturday because Christmas is about giving and there is no better way to give back to your community than to support your local, independent business owners,” Pigsley said.

Pigsley said local retailers aim to make things special and unique.

She adds they often purchase goods from other small businesses and artisans so you won’t find a million of the same item in their stores.

Pigsley said outstanding customer service is something that small businesses aim to provide to differentiate themselves from major retailers.

“In many cases they not only have a box for that gift but they will wrap it up for you at little or no charge,” Pigsley said.

She said local retailers make time for their customers because it is more about a long-term relationship and not one super selling day.

Small businesses also are often staffed with experts in their field right behind the counter instead of some far away headquarters location, Pigsley said.

The Small Business Saturday website at www.shopsmall.com has an interactive map so people can find participating businesses in any city. Visitors to the site can enter a zip code to view a map identifying participating businesses.

American Express is offering card members the opportunity to get a $25 statement credit when they enroll their eligible American Express card and then use it to spend $25 or more in a single in-store transaction at a qualifying small business location on Small Business Saturday.

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