By DAN HEATH
---- — PLATTSBURGH — Holiday shoppers are being urged to support local businesses on Small-Business Saturday.
In its third year, Small Business Saturday, sponsored by American Express, comes on the heels of Black Friday, on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving. The idea is to get shoppers to include small, locally owned businesses in their holiday shopping.
Owner Derrick Hackett of Grow Buddies Hydroponic Supplies in Plattsburgh said support for locally owned businesses is extremely important.
"If we can find each other a little more frequently, know who our small businesses are and shop with each other, that would be great," he said.
It becomes even more important when you realize the money spent at a local business stays local and often gets circulated through other area businesses, business advocates said.
Hackett said he prefers to dine at small, locally owned restaurants. Because they are family-owned businesses, the owners seem to pay more attention to detail, he said.
"They care," he said. "You're almost guaranteed to have a good time and a good meal."
One such restaurant is Donovan's Steak and Ale in Malone. Owners Dana and Donovan Reyome said their business wouldn't exist without local patronage.
"We wouldn't be able to function as a business entity without local support," Mrs. Reyome said.
That includes a lot of return customers, she said.
"We get to become friends with these people. They become like family."
When they travel, they try to dine at local, family-owned restaurants as much as possible, Mrs. Reyome said.
The entire staff at Donovan's Steak and Ale is from the Malone area. That means the money that comes into the restaurant stays local.
Mrs. Reyome said they plan to offer Tuesday-night dinner specials that feature locally grown produce and meats within the next few weeks. That includes locally brewed beers and ales, she said.
Malone Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Hugh Hill said Small-Business Saturday was the main topic of discussion at the chamber's annual dinner last week.
"Various speakers spoke about the importance of patronizing small businesses," he said.
The chamber's website, www.visitmalone.com, provides a list of local member businesses, Hill said. The chamber also has formed a committee that's in the process of articulating its importance.
Cornell Cooperative Extension has been on the front lines of promoting the "shop local" idea, he said.
PREPPING FOR BIG DAY
Robin McGrath, owner of Sugar and Spice Country Shoppe in Ticonderoga, said she has participated in Small-Business Saturday all three years.
"It is absolutely vital to a small business to have local support," she said. "We have wonderful support. Every year, it seems word of mouth travels."
It is a pleasant coincidence that Small-Business Saturday coincides with the store's anniversary. McGrath said just about every employee was on hand Wednesday to help prepare for the weekend, which is also their fifth anniversary and their Christmas open house.
Small-Business Saturday is an opportunity for shoppers to relax after the craziness of Black Friday, yet support their local merchants. McGrath said shopping local is her passion, and she tries to pass that along to her customers.
"I thank them for stopping in and make sure they have a great experience."
IMPACT ON PAYROLLS
According to American Express, more than 100 million people took part in Small-Business Saturday last year.
The company cited other statistics that show small businesses account for 44 percent of the total U.S. private payroll. It states that 89 percent of consumers believe small businesses make a positive contribution to their community.
North Country Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors Vice Chair and Treasurer Kim Murray of Champlain Valley Electric Supply said the company took part last year and hopes to see the movement grow this year.
"This is exactly the kind of promotion our small businesses need. With limited resources, we wouldn't be able to do something like this on our own," she said in a press release from the chamber.
Murray said the Shop Small website makes it extremely easy to participate.
"This gives us the opportunity to take advantage of a national marketing campaign, and it's free to participate. I encourage every small-business owner in our region to take part."
Chamber President Garry Douglas said the North Country has a terrific community of small businesses that offer unique types of gifts for the holidays.
"They make our communities, including our downtowns and our rural landscapes, vital and alive, but they need the support of North Country residents.
"If everyone, as part of their total mix of shopping, would make a point of checking out our small businesses and their offerings and include a few more purchases from these enterprises than they made last year, it can have an enormous impact on both the local business owners and our area economy," he said.
"And if we all do it on the 24th, it can make a real collective statement of regional support for our small-business community."
Email Dan Heath