Local merchants stock up for Small Business Saturday

 Julie Lewis | The Daily Star 

Gun Blue and son Arlo, 5, browse in Razzle Dazzle on Main Street in Oneonta on Wednesday.

As Black Friday marks the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season, hundreds of small businesses are preparing to welcome shoppers and promote their local wares on Small Business Saturday.

Held the first Saturday after Thanksgiving, Small Business Saturday was launched by American Express launched after the 2009 recession, when many small businesses were struggling. Now in its 10th year, the day has become a national celebration and an opportunity for people to support the small, independent businesses that make their communities strong, according to the National Federation of Independent Business

Last year, shoppers spent a record $17.8 billion at independent stores and restaurants on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, according to research by American Express and NFIB.

Sixty-seven cents out of every dollar spent at a small business recirculates in the local economy, according to Ray Pucci, president of the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber produced a video this fall to promote “I Pledge,” a Small Business Saturday campaign that emphasizes the role of the consumer in supporting local businesses.

“Everyone this time of year talks about ‘shop local, buy local,’ and rather than doing it out of a sense of obligation or a sense of guilt, we wanted to really heighten the role that our small businesses have in our communities,” Pucci said. “We’re asking our neighbors to take that pledge, to support our small businesses; that as an individual, I’m going to make that commitment, whenever possible, to shop local and support those businesses that support me.”

“The idea behind this is that our small businesses are one of the key pillars of all of our communities, and this is the time of year we get to show our appreciation to those small businesses for the support that they give,” he continued. “It’s that this business supports me and my community.”

Debra North, owner of Razzle Dazzle in Oneonta, said she begins preparations for the holiday shopping season in August.

The store offers a selection of unique clothing items, kitchen equipment, toys, games and uniquely crafted local art.

“Every penny I have is invested in this store,” North said.

She lamented the toll online shopping has taken on her business, which she founded in Oneonta in 1975. 

“I lost a whole generation of people who are very important to me,” North said. “They stay in their pajamas all day and order off the screen.”

“A lot of us are just holding on and hoping it gets better,” she said of her fellow Main Street business owners, many of whom rely on the holiday shopping season to get them through the year.

“Small Business Saturday we hope is more than just one day; that this is the time of year that we get not only to show our appreciation for what our small businesses do throughout the year, but really talk about the story of shopping with our small businesses,” Pucci said. “It means sharing their passions, sharing their stories, finding gifts that you’re not going to find anywhere else, that are uniquely Catskills.”

Sarah Eames, staff writer, can be reached at seames@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7213. Follow her @DS_SarahE on Twitter.

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