Small businesses plan for big shopping season

By Riley Swinford

As large corporations and holiday shoppers countrywide prepare for Black Friday, some area businesses are trying to get a share of the year’s busiest shopping weekend.

Several Carbondale businesses will participate in Small Business Saturday, a nationwide shopping day that takes place the Saturday after Thanksgiving. For years, large corporations across the country have slashed prices and offered deals the day before, called Black Friday, as an effort to turn profit for the year. Small businesses have their own day now, and more than two dozen Carbondale stores have registered to participate in the event that was created by American Express in 2010.

“We have a very strong local business community here,” said Sherry Taylor, director of the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce. “We are trying to find ways to push people into the doors and help the businesses thrive during hard economic conditions.”


Taylor said money recirculates through the community when it is spent in the area. When $100 is spent at a local business, for example, $68 stays in the community, according to research by Civic Economics, a business data website. To compare, $43 stays in the community when $100 is spent at a major retailer.

“It is really important to try and keep the dollars local,” said Kelly Rexroad, owner of Bookworm, a Carbondale bookstore participating in the event. “We, along with the other small businesses in the community, want to promote that. Small Business Saturday is helping us do that by getting the word out that small businesses here need the support of everyone in the community.”

Nearly 103 million Americans participated in Small Business Saturday in 2011, according to information from American Express. More than 150 million people shopped on Black Friday last year and spent more than $800 million. It was the largest turnout of all time for Black Friday.

Small businesses try to compete during the holiday season by offering low prices and incentives to their customers. Rexroad said her store will offer specials on the day before Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. However, she said the promotions will differ each day.

“We participated for the first time last year and had a really good turnout on Saturday,” she said. “A lot of people who came in thought it was a really good idea to promote the small stores.”

Jose Castrejon, owner of Sound Core Music, said his business will participate in the event. He said attention to service is what makes small businesses different from large retailers.

“That’s why we are still there,” he said. “It’s a speciality business. Research shows that local businesses are the backbone of the economy.”


Castrejon said his store will offer a variety of incentives to shoppers this holiday season. He said his business typically sees a large increase of traffic during November and December.

“Everyone wants good deals,” he said. “You just have to open your doors and give people good deals.”

Castrejon said the holiday shopping season often generates more business as well.

“It motivates people to go out and spend when they typically can’t,” he said. “Holidays are nice.”

Chris McKinley, owner of Dayshift Boutique, said her store will have Ornament Day, a sale that features a variety of handmade ornaments made by artists from the area as a way to draw in customers on Small Business Saturday.

“I think it’s important to support local businesses because it’s hard enough for small businesses to stay in business competing with large corporations,” she said. “In order to keep the small places alive, I think it is important.”

McKinley said her store participated in the event last year and saw a pretty good turnout.

Dalton Kennerly, assistant manager of P Mac Music, said the store will offer a variety of holiday specials. He said it is important for people to support the businesses.

“It is interesting to get out and see what the small stores have,” he said. “We have some really awesome stores in this town. I think it is a lot better town when we have these types of stores.”

Kennerly said he thinks it is an important time for stores because so much money is spent during the holiday shopping season.

“This is the time to get it,” he said. “If you are going to make up for a loss, this is the time to do it. I would assume a lot of small businesses are seeing losses and having a bad time. There is no other time of the year to make it up. This is it.”