When Christine Powers learned she won a $25 American Express gift certificate online to shop at a local small business, she had a specific store — and a specific purse — in mind.
But although she didn’t have that specific item wrapped in a bag from Puttin’ on the Glitz in downtown Perrysburg, Ms. Powers said she was still able to find something great in one of her favorite stores.
“It’s a lot friendlier environment,” said Ms. Powers, 30, of Toledo who, along with husband Carl Rucki, 31, said they stand behind efforts to support small businesses. “Some of the small business I shop at, I’m known by the owners and it’s a nicer feeling to be where you feel welcome.”
Ms. Powers’ gift certificate was just one promotional aspect of Small Business Saturday — the shopping day after Black Friday during which consumers were encouraged to shop and buy at small local merchants. Now in its third year, the event is timed to occur during one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year.
According to American Express’ Web site, more than 100 million people nationwide — including President Obama, who was seen and photographed at a small bookstore in Arlington, Va. — were expected to spend their money at independently owned small businesses.
Locally, one of those businesses was B-Bop Records/Third Space on Michigan Street in downtown Toledo.
Owner Amjad Doumani said the most obvious reason to support local small businesses is that they are a key to a healthy community.
“I think it’s important to support them because a small business is part of the fabric of the community,” he said, standing among hundreds of new and used records and compact discs. “They don’t have their headquarters somewhere else. You’re tied in. You live here, you work here, you spend your money here.”
And, Mr. Doumani added, small-business owners struggle right along with the rest of the community.
Next door, at Sophie’s Sister, where sleek clothing hung from full but not overcrowded racks, Lauren Deis said small businesses help “keep Toledo alive and going.”
A sales associate and buyer for Sophie’s Sister, Ms. Deis said small-business owners know their customers can go elsewhere, so they try to offer unique, high-quality goods and services.
Although she was encouraged by the national campaign to highlight small businesses, she noted its timing was less than ideal for Ohio and Michigan merchants. “We’ve seen some people coming through, but there’s a large game on and that seems to be a bit distracting,” she joked, noting the Ohio State-Michigan game likely kept some shoppers out of stores and in front of televisions.
In Perrysburg, Kristin Kaminsky said Artforms, the shop she owns with her husband, Steven, allows customers not only to shop locally but also to buy locally made items. Artforms, which predominantly features custom jewelry and glass art, is offering unique holiday gifts for the 12th consecutive year, she said.
“The hardest thing to do is get local people to think about what’s right outside their door. [Small Business Saturday] is a start,” Mrs. Kaminsky said.
As an owner of a small business herself, Denise Martin of Toledo said she always tries to shop small and local. On Saturday, she was in Puttin’ on the Glitz on Louisiana Avenue in Perrysburg with her daughter and a friend picking up gifts. “When you shop local, it stays local,” said the owner of Martin & Martin Insurance Agency in East Toledo.
In Sylvania, sales associates at C’est La Vie on North Main Street said their holiday season had been busy so far.
Char Boyd, who isnvolved in the store’s sales and marketing, said customers enjoy the boutique shopping experience they can find only with small businesses in small towns.
“It takes a village,” she said. “If the small businesses succeed, that in turn will help the companies and the community in general.”
Contact Erica Blake at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-213-2134.