Thinking big, selling small

ANDERSON — Though super shoppers are already gearing up to find the best deals on Black Friday, small business owners are hoping customers will put out just as much emphasis on the day after.Small Business Saturday was created in 2010 by American Express as a way to shine a light on small business owners, who are often lost in the fervor leading up to America’s largest shopping day, says Ben Orcutt, owner of Buckskin Bikes in Anderson.

Small Business Saturday is about more than just finding great deals on presents, though.

“It’s pretty clear that you are helping keep a family in the community employed,” Orcutt said.

Small businesses also offer periphery benefits, he said.

“They also get involved culturally in their community," Orcutt said. "Big box stores aren’t like that."

Over the five years Small Business Saturday has been active, it has received federal recognition in 2012 and recognition by all 50 states’ legislators in 2013. Last year, customers spent $16.2 billion at local businesses on the day.

The Alexandria Monroe Chamber of Commerce is helping Alexandria-area small businesses take part on Saturday by sending promotional materials to local stores and advertising the event at the chamber’s year-end award ceremony last week, Executive Director Jeff Bryan said.

“It’s important to support local businesses because the money goes into the pockets of a family in the community,” Bryan said. “That money goes to dance lessons or classes for the family’s kids, not to a giant corporation.”

Eliot Reed, owner of Park Place Arts in Anderson, said he thinks the small business event is beginning to grow in the minds of shoppers.

“I do think awareness is growing some and people understand the importance of small local businesses,” he said.

His business will be celebrating the day with an art exhibit that invites local artist and craftsmen to sell their art at his store on Eighth Street.

“We want to show people what other people in their community are doing and give them a place to show it off,” Reed said.

Orcutt said his business will offer discounts on merchandise as well as selling traditional toboggans on Saturday.

But more importantly, Orcutt said he is offering a chance to “help keep a family in the community employed.”