Biz Buzz: Shop Local on Small Business Saturday Nov. 29

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Artists Wendy Johnson and Ilona Martin put the finishing touches on a display at Seaside Gallery

In 2010, American Express started a viral campaign to support locally owned businesses with their Shop Small campaign that takes place the Saturday after Thanksgiving (or the day after Black Friday, theoretically the busiest shopping day of the year).

Small Business Saturday is focused on small businesses owned by local citizens. The Wal-Marts, Costcos, Toys R’ Us, and most franchises get pushed to the side, and the spotlight shines on the typical Mom and Pop businesses that help define our country.

As an entrepreneurial nation, over 97 percent of all businesses in the country are classified as small, x_MG_8356which is defined as having less than 500 employees. Realistically, most have less than 20.

For many business owners and retailers, the final 30-45 days of the year can make or break an entire year and even be a prediction of things to come.

In addition to Black Friday, which is very late in the month this year (not a good thing) we also have Cyber Monday, which was founded in 2005. It is a self-promoted, self-produced on-line shopping day the Monday after Thanksgiving. Sales generated that day broke through the $1 billion mark in 2010 and doubled that last year. Some predict close to $3 billion this year.

Bottom line: forget the mall; shop local and celebrate Small Biz Saturday.

How do you do your part?

x_MG_8359If you visit www.shopsmallnow.americanexpress.com you can look up Newport Beach businesses by zip code and segment them by services, food, entertainment, travel and retail.

Looking at the list, there are many you have never heard of, like Band of Martians at 434 Old Newport Blvd. Their website says they carry “a carefully curated group of brands brought together to help break through the sea of sameness.” Find them at BandofMartians.com.

A little easier to find is Seaside Gallery and Goods at 124 Tustin Ave. This co-op gallery features works by a variety of artists and crafts people that share the space.

One of those is Newport resident Illona Martin, who told me that “in a small town like Newport we shouldx_MG_8374 all try to shop locally if possible, but many people don’t know where to go. We invite people to come in—we offer up to a 20 percent discount if they buy that day.”

Strong incentive, indeed. They can be reached at (949) 283-7070 or http://seasidegalleryandgoods.myshopify.com.

Lido Village Books at 3424 Via Oporto has been a book store for forty years and is now owned by Dan Schmenk. This is the third year he has participated in Small Business Saturday and offers a 10 percent discount if you use the card.

When I asked why he participated he said, “I like that American Express is helping to promote my business and the exposure is important. I have several customers that specifically come here from the campaign so that’s free business.”

Their number is (949) 673-2549.

On Saturday, Dec. 29, try shopping locally for a change. That means:

  • Avoid the large chain stores, i.e., no COSTCO, Wal-mart, K-mart or any other mart out there
  • Stay away from the malls, unless the business is locally owned
  • Franchises are OK as long as they are individually owned and not part of the corporate ownership
  • Buy gifts at some of the local boutiques, clothing stores, privately owned hardware stores or similar, food stores, bakeries, pet stores, wine merchants, and the list goes on and on.

At least go out to eat at somewhere that is not part of a big chain (we have plenty of locally-owned, chef-driven restaurants in Newport Beach) and do your part to keep entrepreneurship and small business alive and thriving.

Happy shopping.

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