Long Island's independent business owners and community leaders are encouraging local residents to shop small as they count down to the fifth anniversary of Small Business Saturday this weekend.
While many shoppers will head to big box stores or shop online on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, many Long Island small businesses will be competing for shoppers' attention with special displays, window signs, events and cross-promotions for Small Business Saturday, the official start of the holiday shopping season for independent businesses.
"People should remember to shop locally," said Julie Marchesella, owner of Queens of Hearts boutique in Merrick, and president of the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce, which represents 6,000 business owners. "We understand that not all of their purchases will be done on Main Street in their downtown, but in some level if they shop locally it shows that the community supports their own, it gives extra revenue to invest in the community and we hire within the community."
A nationwide event
Small Business Saturday, which is held every year on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, was created in 2010 by American Express. Last year, consumers who were aware of Small Business Saturday reported spending $5.7 billion with independent merchants on the day, an increase of 3.6 percent from the previous year.
About 78 percent of shoppers say they will be spending more or the same amount on Small Business Saturday as they did last year, according to the National Federation of Independent Business and American Express.
"This Small Business Saturday campaign feels good," Valley Stream-based small business public relations expert Karen Taylor Bass said. "When a consumer feels that they are contributing to someone's bottom line it is a win-win for all."
During the final three months of the year, brick and mortar stores are expected to get a 92 percent share of consumer retail, according to the Advocates for Independent Business, a coalition of 14 national organizations representing over 100,000 small businesses. For every $100 spent at a local small business, $48 stays in the community, compared to just $14 for big box retailers, the group said.
Look for Winter Fest in Bay Shore
Downtown Bay Shore is among 3,000 neighborhoods around the country hosting a Small Business Saturday event. Bay Shore, which changed the date of its annual Winter Fest to coincide with Small Business Saturday, will light a Christmas tree and Menorah, have musical performances and give away goodies.
"The purpose of having our Winter Fest on Small Business Saturday is to bring more shoppers into the downtown," said Donna deLuca Periconi, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Bay Shore, adding that 30 businesses are participating. "This is our chance for us to show our appreciation for our small businesses. They are our local heroes."
For small business owners like Drew Allt of Drew Patrick Spa on West Main Street in Bay Shore, a wellness center, day spa and gifts store, Small Business Saturday is part of their promotional calendar. At the store, hot chocolate and spiced apple cider will be served, the staff of 46 will help patrons shop, and gifts will be wrapped for free.
"This program is everything that we are all about," said Allt, who has participated in Small Business Saturday for four out of eight years in business. "This is a way to encourage people to support us when they are already going to be doing their shopping."
From cider to selfies
In Long Beach, close to 30 businesses on West Park Avenue and West Beech Street have banded together to host Small Business Saturday Selfie.
Shoppers can take a selfie in a local business with their purchase, tag the business name and upload it to Twitter, Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag #shopsmallselfie. In return, shoppers will receive a discount and a gift in all participating stores, while the person with the most businesses tagged will receive a grand prize.
"It's kind of like a scavenger hunt. It is a fun game," said Long Beach event organizer Julia Lopez-Motherway, owner of Karma's Angel, a beauty boutique lounge and spa that has been in business for a year and half. "Everyone loves using their phone, so why not do something fun? Everyone loves taking selfies."