To make sure everyone benefits from the holiday season, local merchants are encouraging shoppers to buy gifts locally instead of from larger corporations.
To kick off the holiday shopping season, several local businesses will participate in “Small Business Saturday,” a national campaign taking place on November 30, an initiative launched through American Express. The annual event, which traditionally takes place the day after Black Friday officially kicks off the Christmas shopping season, is aimed at jump-starting local economies, offering both businesses and American Express cardholders incentives for participating.
Many businesses, although not affiliated with the American Express campaign, still participate in the day and applaud the effort to put the spotlight on local merchants.
“The chamber believes that Small Business Saturday should not just be a one-time event, but should be a focus on how we live our lives in terms of sustainability,” Micah Schlendorf, president of the Southampton Chamber of Commerce, said this week. “We look at it for farming and homeownership, but we need to look at sustainable shopping.
“Small businesses are such an intricate part of the economy,” he continued. “When you look at the businesses, the money spent there goes back into the community—in restaurants, other shops, and not-for-profits—and a lot of this money is based on small-business owners.”
According to Cathy Seeliger, owner of Roses and Rice on Main Street in East Quogue, the event is great for small businesses nationwide. An active participant for the past four years, Ms. Seeliger has been advertising the shopping day through her store, social media and word of mouth.
“Last year and the year before, it was phenomenal how many people came in just to say, ‘Hi, I’m supporting you,’” she said. “It was really very touching and nice to see.”
Ms. Seeliger, who does participate in the American Express program, said she nonetheless will be offering sales and discounts throughout the day to further entice shoppers to stay local. She added that although the uptick in sales for the day is nice, it is inspiring just to see locals come into the shop and offer support.
“It is such a feel-good time, that day,” she said. “People just saying, ‘We are happy you are here.’”
Other business owners agree. In Southampton Village, Mark Zucchero, owner of Flying Point Surf and Sport on Main Street, said it really boosts local business owners’ spirits to embrace the day. He said that with online sales and large retailers around, it can be hard for mom-and-pop shops to survive.
“The day is very important to carry the country,” he said. “It is essential for the mom-and-pop shops to keep them going, to help them with covering their costs to stay open.”
According to Chris Clark, a manager at Crossroads Music in Amagansett, the day is special for all local businesses, noting that money that is spent on the East End has a better chance of staying on the East End.
“It is cool to support the local businesses,” he said. “You can keep the money within the community, with the people you see every day. I think it is always good to support that.”