PLATTSBURGH — Shoppers and diners are once again urged to patronize local businesses during the fourth-annual Small Business Saturday this weekend.
“It brings people out,” said Susan Rathbun, co-owner of Rathbun Jewelers in Ticonderoga. “It’s really a positive experience for us.”
The nationwide event is intended to shift the focus from large retailers on Black Friday and from online services on Cyber Monday, Dec. 2.
The Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce jumped aboard the first year, Executive Director Matthew Courtright said. And the movement has expanded each season — there are 20 businesses signed up to provide discounts and specials this year.
He encourages shoppers to “stay local, buy local and eat local because the businesses here give back to the community in so many ways.”
Courtright said he, himself, has really embraced the stay-local movement and now does more than 90 percent of his shopping and dining at homegrown businesses.
He believes the community is also realizing the importance of supporting local merchants, not just on Small Business Saturday but throughout the year.
The Ticonderoga Chamber has even expanded on the idea. Small Business Saturday falls in the middle of its North Country Christmas Week, a series of special events that runs today through Sunday, Dec. 8.
Rathbun Jewelers, now in its 73rd year of business, has taken part all four years.
“I certainly believe in it,” Rathbun said. “It’s really taken off.”
The store will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, with an open-house-type event, with mimosas, cider and other refreshments.
There will be a number of items priced at 20 to 50 percent discounts. Customers can also submit entries for a wishlist drawing with several hundred dollars worth of prizes, with the winners chosen closer to Christmas.
Rathbun said Courtright and Chamber office assistant Molly Bechard have been instrumental in promoting the events.
Kneucraft Fine Jewelry and Design owner Shawn Kneussle, who recently moved into a new location at 672 Route 3 in the Town of Plattsburgh, said community support is vital to small, locally owned businesses.
Customers seem to realize they will get attentive, personalized service when they shop locally, he observed.
“It seems like the community appreciates our capabilities.”
At Kneucraft, customers also appreciate the chance to be part of the entire process of creating custom pieces, from sketch to carving to casting to finishing, Kneussle said.
Support from local shoppers has led him to sponsor and give donations for a number of community events.
“We strive to help where we can,” he said. “The community has supported me, and I’m trying to give back to the community.”
In the City of Plattsburgh, Under One Roof video owner Becky Leonard has taken part in Small Business Saturday since it started in 2010.
“I think it’s a great way to help brick-and-mortar stores compete with online retailers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday,” she said. “We want to get people out on the streets and away from their computers and into our stores.”
Leonard said there wasn’t a noticeable difference the first year, but the initiative continues to gain momentum.
“Now I’m hearing customers say they plan to take the day to shop locally,” she said.
Leonard and some other local merchants are trying to organize display tables at participating locations to promote the products available at other stores.
Under One Roof will offer free popcorn, free movie coloring sheets for children and a rent-one, get-one-rental-free offer throughout the day.
Leonard will also give away some Disney memorabilia.
‘A FAVORITE DAY’
Malone Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Hugh Hill said this is the second year the chamber has embraced Small Business Saturday. It is an important part of the chamber’s weekly efforts to educate its members on the value of supporting local businesses.
Nancy Monette, vice president of retail operations for the Mountain Mart convenience-store chain in Clinton, Franklin and St. Lawrence counties, said they appreciate the support of area shoppers at their families’ stores and businesses, which also include Titus Mountain, the Holiday Inn Express and Suites and Moe’s Pub and Grill.
She said Small Business Saturday is one of her favorite days of the year, as she spends the time visiting as many local businesses as possible.
“It’s nice to see what’s going on around town,” Monette said. “From a personal aspect, I see more people out on the town on (Small Business) Saturday.”
$5.5 BILLION NATIONWIDE
Founded by American Express in 2010, Small Business Saturday generated 1.2 million Facebook likes that year in just under one month.
A Redshift Research study on the event commissioned by the National Federation of Independent Business and American Express indicated the average shopper spent $75 on Small Business Saturday in 2012. That indicated an estimated $5.5 billion in spending across the country on that day.
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WHERE TO SHOP
For a full list of Ticonderoga businesses taking part in Small Business Saturday and for the whole schedule of North Country Christmas events, visit www.ticonderogany.com.
American Express offers free digital and in-store marketing tools to help store owners promote Small Business Saturday. Find them at www.shopsmall.com. Also at that address, cardholders can register their American Express Card and get a $10 statement credit when they make a purchase of $10 or more at a qualifying small business location on Saturday.