Small Business Saturday Gains Momentum in Third Year

By: Jason Tarr Email
By: Jason Tarr Email

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The past few years have been the worst of times for small business owners such as Nancy Robinson of east Wichita's Best of Times Cards and Gifts.

"It's been terribly hard," Robinson said. "So many of my fellow retailers and smaller businesses have gone away."

She says every person that walks in the door of her store on E. Central, every dollar spent there, counts.

"It's crucial because that's how I pay my bills. That's how I make a living and hire employees," Robinson said.

Robinson, who has been in business for 31 years, says recently she's had a boost. It's come in the form of a relatively new tradition established three years ago by American Express to promote buying local: Small Business Saturday.

"That kinds of gets drilled into people's brains and they remember it," Robinson said. "The first year, I didn't see much response. But last year and this year have been really good."

The increase has been staggering.

"Over last year, I think we are up 25 percent," Robinson said.

She says the effects of Small Business Saturday extend throughout the year. Robinson says more and more people come into her store saying they are there to spend money at a locally-owned business.

"That money stays right here in Kansas, most of it here in Wichita," Robinson said.

That's something her customers appreciate.

"I kind of like the personal attention and the small shops," said Karen Tevis Gillespie who lives south of Andover.

That personal touch is partly why Wichita's Tammy Orth and Teddi McCullough stopped in at Trendy Tots on North Rock Road.

"Even if you have to spend a dollar or two more or your choices are a little more limited, what you're doing for the owner of the shop and the people that work there is much better than supporting a large corporation," McCullough said.

Owners say what you're doing by shopping with them on Small Business Saturday and throughout the year is keeping their stores open and keeping jobs in your community.

"It gives me hope that there's so much enthusiasm for shopping locally," Robinson said.

She has so much hope people will continue to shop, she's just signed a new five-year lease.

"We are thrilled that they are coming in here," Robinson said. "There are a lot of places you go that you don't get thanked for your business. Well, we appreciate it."

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