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Small Business Saturday could exceed $14 billion

While big box retail stores have their Black Friday and Cyber Monday, mom and pop stores are gearing up for their retail day sandwiched between those two key dates — Small Business Saturday.

The Main Street-focused shopping day for the Saturday after Thanksgiving was created by American Express in 2010. Sales this year could exceed $14 billion, and data show consumers are willing to paying slightly more to support an independent business.

Small Business Saturday "keeps local in mind," said Eileen Buriani, owner of kid's furniture and gift retailer Kidegories, based in Shrewsbury, New Jersey. "Businesses that have been here for so long are still here," said Buriani, who has been in business for 20 years.

The day encourages consumers to support small local retailers and restaurants during the busiest shopping season of the year. During last year's Small Business Saturday, consumers spent a whopping $14.3 billion, up 2 percent from $14 billion spent in 2013.

Buriani is busy prepping her store for what she hopes will be big crowds. She brings in about 25 percent of annual sales during the holiday season. In preparation for Saturday, the retailer is stocking up inventory and sending deal reminders via email and social media.

The small business owner also is paying her success forward. She employs other local business professionals to make some of their handmade goods.

"I've got a 90-year-old woman knitting sweaters for us," Buriani said. "I've got women in their 80s who are hand-painting for us. ... We try to keep that local feel and one-of-a-kind uniqueness."

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And unique purchases and gifts are important for consumers. About 80 percent of shoppers say they're willing to pay slightly more for an item if it's purchased from an independent retailer versus a big chain, according to data from American Express and the National Federation of Independent Business.

Peter Glassman, owner and founder of New York City-based Books of Wonder, is celebrating 35 years in business.
Source: Kate Rogers
Peter Glassman, owner and founder of New York City-based Books of Wonder, is celebrating 35 years in business.

The reach of Small Business Saturday, meanwhile, continues to grow. "We've increased the amount of support we give to businesses, customized marketing materials and are working with different partners to broaden the appeal in the types of small businesses that participate," said Anre Williams, president of global merchant services at American Express.

New York-based indoor cycling studio Swerve Fitness is also participating in Small Business Saturday. It's offering classes to raise awareness about the shopping day and the importance of supporting local businesses in partnership with Well+Good, a wellness media company. "The goal is to engage with our community and raise awareness about the importance of supporting local businesses," said Chelsea Kocis, chief operating officer of Swerve Fitness.

Her NYC business neighbor, Peter Glassman of Books of Wonder, is also spreading the message of Small Business Saturday. He has been running his independent children's bookstore for 35 years and counting.

"Eighty percent of every dollar you spend in a locally owned business stays in the community," Glassman said. "By spending money with locally owned businesses, you keep the money in your town, your city and your neighborhood."

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