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Shopping small businesses Saturday
Shoppers encouraged to buy locally on the Saturday after Thanksgiving

At this year’s Lighting of the Tree event on the Covington Square, visitors could stop at a table displaying promotions for “Shop small, shop local.”

The response, said Debbie Harper, Membership Chair for the Covington/Newton County Chamber of Commerce, was very positive. “Everyone was saying we’d like to keep our money local,” she said.

The promotional bags, mats, pens and buttons help call attention to the county’s participation in Small Business Saturday <>, held the Saturday after Thanksgiving, to bring attention to the benefits shopping locally has on the community.

The national Small Business Saturday movement, which follows on the heels of Black Friday, was founded in 2010 by American Express <>.

“We really like to push shopping at our local businesses to keep that money local,” Harper said. “68-cents of every dollar spent stays locally. In an effort to keep the small business and shop local concept going through the Holidays, we have buttons that say, ‘Home for the Holidays—Shop Covington’.”

“Small business Saturday is held to draw focus on supporting our local economies and our local businesses,” said Mark Gibson, public affairs office for the Georgia Small Business Administration District Office.

Gibson said that nearly half of all the consumers aware of Small Business Saturday last year did shop locally. “That meant that $5.7 billion dollars was pumped into local economies across the country [in 2013],” he said.

This year, on Nov. 29, people will not only be encouraged to shop at local stores, they will be asked to Dine Small, as well.

“Dine Small <> is a cooperative with the SBA, so while you’re out shopping at small businesses, stop and dine at small restaurants,” Gibson said.

Local retailers and restaurants are given tools to promote participation in Small Business Saturday. Sherry Cartledge, manager of Leaping Lizard Pet Store in Covington said their store will be participating and has hung up some of the signs promoting the date.

“Please show up and shop small,” she said. “I’m hoping there will be a rise in business this year because we need it.”
Small businesses can offer things the bigger box stores don’t offer, she said. “We have more one-on-one with our customers. We can be more attentive to costumers, and we can offer unique items the bigger stores don’t carry.”

Tony Ramsey, vice-president of Ramsey Furniture Company in Covington agrees. “We compete as small businesses. We can give a more personal service before and after the sale. Often times, we’re even cheaper than the big box stores, not always, but often.”

Small businesses owners and staff know their customers, Ramsey said. “We go to church with them, we dine in the same restaurants, we live in the same neighborhoods,” he said. Shopping locally “helps everybody. Businesses pay taxes, so it’s important to keep money local.”

The last two years has shown an increase in business since the recession began in 2008. “It’s really back up to pre-2008 business. We hope to continue that,” he said.

According to Gibson, “small businesses are vital to the growth and revival of our economy. Since the recession, small businesses have created two out of three new jobs [and] are largely responsible for the creation of 10.3 million jobs over a 56-month straight period.

“The way we came out of the recession can be attributed to small businesses directly,” he said.

And while the day may not have had much of an impact on Bradley’s Bar-B-Que in downtown Covington, Manager Randy Smith said it was a decent day for business.

“The week of Thanksgiving is pretty slow for us because so many people are out of town,” he said. “It might have been even slower without Small Business Saturday.”

For the restaurant, he said, raising awareness of small businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving does have an impact after the day. Shopping in the local community, he said, “supports local businesses and gives back to local communities.”

There has been a loss of three percent of independent furniture dealers in the state of Georgia over the last few years, Ramsey said. “That’s scary. And it’s not just the furniture business, it’s the small Moms and Pops across the state that are being affected. We’re in a position where we own our buildings, so we can survive … Instead of jumping on the Interstate, people can stay local and find what they’re looking for locally.

“Not always, but a lot of times,” Ramsey said.

Harper said the chamber will be promoting Small Business Saturday and the accompanying “Home for the Holidays—Shop Covington” through its social media platforms. Follow Small Business Saturday on social media at #SmallBizSat.
“This is the first time we pushed [promotions] out from the chamber,” Harper said, “but it’s not just chamber members who can participate. It’s any small business in Newton County. Shop small, shop local.”

“We challenge everybody, every household in Newton County to spend at least $50 locally through the holidays,” Harper said.