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Small businesses have big day with retail promotion

Small Business Saturday puts customers in stores

Brenda Trice, owner of A Little Bit Sheepish, says she was pleased with the turnout at her store on Main Street during Small Business Saturday last weekend in downtown Berlin.

By Rachel Ravina, Staff Writer

(Dec. 5, 2019) For several business owners in downtown Berlin, Small Business Saturday this past weekend was a great success.

“I mean, I was thinking it was going to be busy, but it was … packed, which was really fun,” said Patti Backer, owner of The Dusty Lamb on William Street.

Backer opened her shop in March, so this was her first holiday season. While she didn’t offer any specific discounts for the day, Backer said she sold many artworks and stocking stuffers, and was pleased with the overall turnout.

“It was like 10 weekends combined like in really one day,” Backer said. “I mean Friday was good, but Saturday was, I mean there were just so many people. And there were a lot of local people who came specifically to sup- port Berlin, which was really nice.”

Brenda Trice, owner of A Little Bit Sheepish on Main Street, agreed.

“It was a great weekend for us, absolutely,” Trice said.

Her shop has been open for the past seven years. She said she offered 20 percent off all sock yarn this past weekend and 10 percent off all yarn on Monday for “Fiber Monday.”

Trice estimated that hundreds of people stopped by her store and “it was a good Saturday.”

Olga Kozhevnikova, owner of World of Toys on Main Street, said she was prepared for the busy holiday weekend and shopping event and had extra help. Her store has been open for nearly eight years.

“The Small Business Saturday it’s always the best day of the year for us,” Kozhevnikova said.

Kozhevnikova said 255 transac- tions were completed on Saturday. She said mailing 6,000 Christmas catalogues and having 25 percent off Melissa and Doug toys this past weekend were major contributors to her success last weekend.

“I can tell you what we did in two days is one-third of the month’s sale[s],” Kozhevnikova said.

Rachel Howard, public information officer for the Small Business Administration’s Baltimore district office, said the event was created by American Express 10 years ago, and the federal agency joined eight years ago.

“[It’s] just a way to bring attention to the importance of small business and again just … to show them a little love and encourage folks to shop local and keep their dollars in the community,” Howard said.

While the numbers are still preliminary, Howard said American Express estimated that in 2019 there were 110 million shoppers who said they “shopped or dined locally”, which translates to roughly $19.6 billion. In 2018, there were 104 million shoppers and $17.8 billion reportedly spent.

This shows an overall increase of six million shoppers and $2 billion additional dollars, according to Howard’s research.

“Small businesses give you that personal service. They’ve got customer services,” Howard said. “They’ve got unique products and things you just can’t find online.”

Backer agreed and said shopping in downtown Berlin allows for a beautiful atmosphere.

“I mean walking around Berlin it’s … such a pretty town, so that really makes a difference too,” Backer said.

Howard also cited research that shows that 68 cents of every dollar spent locally stays in the community.

“It’s just really important, they [the small business owners] really anchor the neighborhoods,” she said.

Backer also said that shopping small allows for a more thoughtful purchase this holiday season.

“I think it makes people think about it because I think people a lot of times are so busy they just sort of shop conveniently instead of more mindfully, and I think maybe that makes them think, ‘Oh, I’m support- ing somebody local,’ as opposed to maybe Walmart,” Backer said.