Holiday shopping off to strong start at small businesses
by Matt Shinall
Nov 25, 2012 | 7435 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Small Business Saturday
Brandon Heath, right, gives fly fishing lessons to Cohutta Fishing Co. customer Kevin Copeland in downtown Cartersville on Friendship Plaza. Small business owners and shoppers capitalized this weekend on Small Business Saturday, a shopping event created to encourage local patronage between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. BRANDEN CAMP/The Daily Tribune News
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Black Friday is the unofficial kickoff to the holiday shopping season and small businesses in Cartersville welcomed customers this weekend looking to find the perfect gifts for their loved ones.

Like their Goliath counterparts, small business owners ushered in the season with Black Friday promotions, but they quickly followed that by celebrating Small Business Saturday.

Sponsored by American Express, Small Business Saturday is situated each year between Black Friday and Cyber Monday to encourage shopping at locally owned stores. As an incentive, American Express customers were given the opportunity to earn a $25 statement credit for spending $25 or more in a small business on Saturday, Nov. 24.

Businesses within Cartersville’s historic downtown district saw increased foot traffic over the long holiday weekend, including Patty Richardson of Periwinkle at 22 E. Church St. under the bridge.

“Yesterday was busy as well, but for this part of the day, today has been busier,” said Richardson, just before noon Saturday. “I’ve told several people today about Small Business Saturday and if they were at $25 or near it, they’d go back and get something else.”

For Richardson, the holiday shopping season looks promising. She plans on restocking continuously in the coming month, adding new items to her line of clothing, shoes, jewelry, accessories and home decor.

Judging by what she has seen throughout the year, Richardson is hopeful about sales this season and for the economy in general.

“Just from personal observation, I feel it’s been a better year this year and I think we’ll wind up better this year overall,” Richardson said. “I think we’re definitely on the upswing.”

On Cartersville’s west side, Jessica Chambers, owner of Karma Consignment & Boutique, also experienced strong sales over the Black Friday weekend. Traffic at her 650 Henderson Drive shop in the West End Commons Shopping Center was better on Black Friday, but remained elevated for Small Business Saturday as well.

For Chambers, business trends in her niche of the retail industry are difficult to predict.

“It was crowded in here [Friday], I was surprised, but that’s a good problem to have,” Chambers said. “I think everyone is still looking for a good deal because of the economy, but it is a little different with consignment. You never really know when people are going to come in.”

Regular customer Melissa Vaught was on hand Saturday at Karma, a consignment shop for women’s, men’s and children’s clothing. Vaught said she wanted to come out on Small Business Saturday to support local business, but also to support the shop owner who has become a close friend.

“If you shop locally, it keeps money in your community,” Vaught said. “I think it’s important to support my community and support Jessica. She is so down-to-earth and works hard to make a living.

“Since it’s a consignment shop, she works on a 90-day cycle and what doesn’t sell, she donates it to charity. She’s just a wonderful person.”

Vaught was among the 147 million Americans expected to visit stores over the Thanksgiving weekend, according to the National Retail Federation. NRF surveys also indicate that the average holiday shopper will spend $749.51, up almost $9 from the average $740.57 spent last holiday season. The NRF is forecasting holiday sales to increase 4.1 percent this year, reaching $586.1 billion.