Online-order, or brick-and-mortar?

Eight years after its inception, Small Business Saturday still reminding shoppers to stay local.

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Local business-development directors are hoping residents will have recovered from their Thanksgiving-Black Friday activities– or non-activity– to do some shopping Saturday, but not from their laptops while munching on a leftovers sandwich.

Nov. 24 is Small Business Saturday, a “movement” that American Express initiated in 2010 on the Saturday after Thanksgiving to encourage people to “shop small” and bring more holiday dollars to small-scale retailers.

Eight years ago, the recession was being no friend to “Mom and Pop” stores, so, in 2011, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution supporting the special day, and officials in all 50 states now take part, according to the credit-card company.

Intended as a counterpart to the big-box retail of Black Friday and the e-commerce specials of Cyber Monday, the event has gained traction the last few years, and it’s paid off, according to AmEx.
“Since Small Business Saturday started, U.S. customers have reported spending an estimated total of $85 billion at independent retailers and restaurants,” states the company’s website. “That’s $85 billion over eight days alone.”

The Signal Tribune reached out to Signal Hill and Long Beach officials to get an idea of what resources or events might be in place to help local merchants during this day when consumers may have smaller brick-and-mortar places on their minds.

“The City encourages people to shop the small businesses that have been featured in the Spotlight on Small Business [on the City’s website], as well as the businesses located at all of the City’s shopping centers,” wrote Elise McCaleb, Signal Hill redevelopment and economic-development manager, in an emailed response.

The special section to which McCaleb referred is a webpage that highlights various businesses in the city, as well as the opportunity for one’s business to be recognized at a city council meeting. Selected businesses will have the chance to give a brief presentation on their products and/or services and will also be featured in the City’s social media and newsletters, according to the website.

The webpage includes a form that Signal Hill’s small-business owners can fill out to be considered for the spotlight. It can be found at cityofsignalhill.org/596/Spotlight-on-Small-Business.

At press time, the City had featured seven businesses, including posting a brief paragraph with a description of each, along with a slideshow of images of the business.

In an interview Monday afternoon, Blair Cohn, executive director of the Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association (BKBIA), said that, in the past, he and his staff had used a few “gimmicks,” such as a scavenger hunt and Bingo-type contest to encourage residents to patronize local stores, but they are keeping it simple for now.

“We just tell the neighborhood, ‘You have to commit to spending some money in the district– eat, shop and use services,’” Cohn said. “We tell them, ‘You’ll feel good doing so, because you’re supporting your neighborhood.’”

On the day of the interview, the BKBIA released a new video it had produced to communicate that message of keeping spending local. The video is available at facebook.com/BKBIA.

Cohn said, in honor of Small Business Saturday, the Bixby Strollers weekly, early-morning walking group will conclude its route at Lola’s Mexican Cuisine, which will provide participants with a spread of food and coffee.

“Before we start the walk, I’m going to remind the group, ‘Hey, you got some good hospitality today. We expect you to come back and spend some money,’” Cohn said. “’Go wash your car, get your hair and nails done– just commit to being back here today.’”