Small is big on Saturday

Published 2:38 pm Wednesday, November 26, 2014

If you’re the type who likes to burn your Thanksgiving calories with a little retail workout, Suffolk has got you covered this year.

Whether you prefer to start your shopping early, bask in the Black Friday experience or wait for the frenzy to be over before joining the Thanksgiving retail madness, there’s a store waiting to accommodate you in Suffolk.

But city officials and local business owners hope shoppers will consider doing at least a portion of their shopping this holiday weekend at some of the city’s locally owned establishments, and they’ve teamed up with the Suffolk News-Herald to help promote the idea.

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“We’re excited that there’s a nationwide effort to bring attention to the impact you have when you shop locally,” Suffolk Economic Development Director Kevin Hughes said Tuesday.

Hughes noted studies that have revealed 68 cents of every dollar spent in a locally owned business return to the community where the business is located.

Independent businesses also help give a community its flair, he said.

“When we’re out there talking about Suffolk, it’s the character of the city that’s important,” he said. “It’s hard to imagine what Suffolk would be like if it didn’t have such a strong, independent business base.”

Small Business Saturday encourages shoppers to patronize those businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It was founded in 2010 by American Express, which continues to promote and support the event each year.

Alison Dodson Anderson, owner of A. Dodson’s, a popular boutique retailer in North Suffolk, has participated in the promotion since the beginning.

“It’s the third busiest day of the year for us,” she said. “I’m a huge ‘shop small’ (fan) anyway. This is helping people really be aware.”

Anderson said she’s especially excited about the program put together locally to help promote Small Business Saturday this year.

Suffolk’s economic development department has worked with the News-Herald to promote the event, encouraging folks not only to visit small, independent businesses in the city, but also to document and share their experiences via social media.

To participate, visit your favorite independently owned Suffolk business on Saturday, snap a photo — anything from a selfie to a wish-list item to a shot of your favorite shopkeeper — and post it to the Suffolk News-Herald’s Facebook page or Twitter account with the hashtag #SmallBizSuffolk and a shout-out to the business you were patronizing.

Four winners will be chosen at random on Monday. They’ll receive $250 gift cards from the business where they entered the contest. For more details, see Steve Stewart’s column on Page 4.

“Local ‘mom-and-pops’ don’t have the reach (of big chains),” Hughes said. “This creates the reach, and the Suffolk News-Herald is the outreach mechanism.”

Donnie Carter of Carter Furniture in downtown Suffolk is one of those business owners who hopes to benefit from that extra reach. His company has participated in Small Business Saturday for the past three years, but not to the extent he expects as a result of the local promotion.

“We’ve been in this business for three generations,” he said. “Local (business) is very important. That’s what pays the taxes and keeps our taxes as low as they are.”