Area businesses compete with big-box stores on Small Business Saturday

Posted at 8:55 PM, Nov 24, 2012
and last updated 2012-11-25 12:28:06-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - Small Business Saturday means big business for shops in Carytown.  The sounds of holiday shopping is music to the ears of small retailers that are trying to compete with big-box stores.

Carytown merchant Heidi Story hopes customers will spend a little more at her shop as she's offering 20 percent off and free alterations as part of Small Business Saturday.

"Throughout the year, I think they forget about us sometimes," Heidi Story said.  "And it's very important," added the Carytown merchant.  "We need them if we're going to stay here.”

"We really make everything fit our customer perfectly," Story said.  "We give them service that you don't get any place else, which is why some of them would shop here versus a huge store."

Some customers see Small Business Saturday as an alternative to Black Friday.

"I just wasn't interested in Black Friday," Barbara Douglas said.  "This is my speed," she added.  "I like small businesses."

"I like quantity," Sinahkone Phrakhansa said.  "I like service, and I like community," she added.  And that's what we get when you shop at a local business.”

That is what small retailers are banking on.

"We're offering 20 percent off services and 10 percent off products."

Look Boutique Salon hopes the event will boost their bottom line.

"We had a lot of walk-ins today," Shannon Fahey, an employee of Look Boutique Salon, said.  "A lot of people came in and bought products today," the owner added.  "It was pretty awesome."

It's not just small retailers cashing in on the holiday rush.  Big box stores like Wal-Mart and Target are competing against small retailers by offering Super Saturday deals to keep shoppers in their stores.

"Christmas is starting earlier and earlier every year," Mat Shelton said.  "I think everyone is looking for a way to capitalize on it," Shelton added.  "So, I'm sure they'll be a Black Thursday.  Black every day of the week."

Regardless, that won't stop some shoppers from buying locally.

"If you're looking for something special for someone, I think you can come right here and find it at a reasonable price.  It's just so many shops,” said Douglas.

“It takes a lot of work on their end, and they have to spend money to make money to market and advertise,” Phrakhansa said.  “We want to make sure that they know that they’re reaching certain customer base and we like their business.”

Small Business Saturday is the most important shopping day of the season for 36 % of independent retailers, according to the National Federation of Independent Businesses.  Only 24% say that day is Black Friday.