Small Business Saturday gains street cred

by Kelly Corbett
Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Staff photo by Emmy Errante 

Lynn Manock’s clothing and accessories shop, Ziabird, was one of the small businesses that participated in Small Business Saturday on Nov. 24.

 The idea for Small Business Saturday was developed by American Express in 2010 so people would support local businesses the day following the biggest retail day of the year.

Since that time, small business owners around the Wrightsville Beach area have heard comments from customers and seen increases in sales from previous years.

Estelle Baker, owner of The Fisherman’s Wife, said the store was even busier on Saturday, Nov. 24, than it was on Black Friday.

“It was wonderful,” she said. “… I thought it was the biggest success in terms of awareness.”

Baker said more customers now realize how a larger percentage of money feeds back into the local economy when they shop at local stores.

Forbes Magazine estimated that 100 million consumers would flock to local stores around the nation in recognition of the day.

“I think that consumers are a lot smarter than they used to be,” Baker said. “… It was across the board busy and people were in such a good mood.”

President Barack Obama participated in the initiative at a bookstore in Arlington, Va., to help make citizens aware of the day.

Baker and Amy Westberg, manager at Island Passage in Lumina Station, said they send their customers to other local shops in the area, and also tell them about other deals.

“We’re definitely local,” Westberg said of the store, which has three Wilmington locations and three Bald Head Island locations.

Sweetwater Surf Shop on Wrightsville Beach saw steady sales on Saturday compared to other Saturdays during the year.

“It was like normal,” manager Spencer Lem said. “… I know we sold more wetsuits this year.”

Lem said he likes the concept of Small Business Saturday.

“It helps support local businesses, small businesses,” he said.

Lynn Manock, owner of Ziabird in Lumina Station, said some of her customers mentioned they were shopping in her store for Small Business Saturday.

“It’s starting to kind of find some ground, or recognition,” she said. “For us, our numbers were as good on Saturday as they were on Friday.”

Sales for the 4-year-old business more than doubled from last year, Manock said.

“People were starting to buy gifts,” Manock said. “People were buying jewelry for others and clothes for themselves. … It was a very jovial shopping crowd.”

Many of the shoppers who came out for the day to the stores received discounted products, which is what draws millions of Black Friday customers out at midnight and early in the morning to wait in long lines the day after Thanksgiving.

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