As the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers are put away, shopping lists come out and holiday shopping gets kicked into high gear.

Sandwiched between the behemoth Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping days is Small Business Saturday — Nov. 30 this year — a movement that continues to grow in awareness and participation across the country.

Small Business Saturday was launched in 2010 by American Express and encourages shoppers to patronize small, local business owners — to “Shop Small” for their holiday gifts.

“Small businesses are the ones that drive communities. Eighty percent of chamber members are small businesses. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about the U.S., Pennsylvania or West Chester — 80% of the businesses are small. We need to take care of them,” said Mark Yoder, president of the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce. “They join the chamber and support the community. They donate to charity because they are part of the community and want to make sure it’s stronger. This is our chance to say ‘we see, hear and know what you do.’”

“There are plenty of opportunities to find great products and great services right in our back yard,” said Eileen Dautrich, president of the TriCounty Area Chamber of Commerce. “These are the companies going out to support the little league, doing fundraisers. Without these small businesses, what does our community look like?”

“People want to do business with a face they recognize, with someone they trust. They like walking into a business where the owners know them. The experience of shopping with a small business owner is different, it’s unique and it’s positive,” said Jessica Capistrant, president and CEO of the Phoenixville Regional Chamber of Commerce.

According to the statistics, 68% of every dollar spent in a small business stays in the local economy, while 42% stays in the local economy if the money is spent at a “big box” store.

Keeping that money local is a great idea, according to Keely Barone Wrigley, co-owner of Lulu Boutique in Phoenixville.

“It makes more sense than spending money at a multimillion dollar conglomerate,” she said.

“Shopping small is also a great way for the community to connect. Chances are we’re going to greet you by name as you walk in, ask about your life as you shop and thank you sincerely as you make your purchases,” said Joan Moore co-owner of Lulu Boutique.

The Small Business Saturday movement marks its 10th year, following a record setting 2018 in terms of participation and dollars spent. According to statistics from the National Federation of Independent Business, $17.8 billion was spent by an estimated 104 million consumers on Small Business Saturday last year.

Since its inception, consumer spending on Small Business Saturday has reached an estimated $103 billion.

Dancing Tree Creations Artisans Gallery & Studio in Boyertown has been part of Small Business Saturday "since day one," according to Lyn Camella-Rich, who owns the business with Beth Camella-Rich.

“The event represents what all small businesses are about and it brings attention to how important and how much fun it is to shop local,” she said.

Camella-Rich said awareness and participation in the day has built over time.

“We have a loyal following of customers from a wide area. A lot of them like to come in on Small Business Saturday to make a statement of support,” she said, adding that Small Business Saturday and Black Friday are two of Dancing Tree’s busiest days of the year.

“Having a campaign like Small Business Saturday highlights the small businesses and brick and mortar shops and draws peoples’ attention to them,” said Patrice Callahan, owner of Liberty Carriage House in Phoenixville. “It is great to have the backing of the community especially with the competition in retail and online shopping.”

Small Business Saturday uses a network of champions across the country to help promote and support the day — 7,500 champions signed on in 2018 across the country.

This year marks West Chester’s seventh year as a neighborhood champion. Yoder said he has seen awareness and participation grow over the years — among the businesses and the community as a whole.

“What I want to see from Small Business Saturday, is people coming to West Chester to do some of their holiday shopping first. This is the first place to go to get unique, original one of a kind things,” Yoder added.

The Greater West Chester Chamber is once again partnering with the West Chester Business Improvement District for Small Business Saturday. The organizations have turned Small Business Saturday into Shop Small West Chester Weekend — from Friday, Nov. 29 through Sunday, Dec. 1. The weekend will feature free parking at street meters and in metered lots throughout.

For more information visit West Chester’s Small Business Saturday Facebook event: www.facebook.com/events/1919747154802961/ or https://www.downtownwestchester.com/view_program.php?id=556

For the sixth year, the TriCounty Area Chamber of Commerce is once again a neighborhood champion. According to Dautrich, the chamber has shared information with its membership. This year, she said, the organization is partnering with PAID Inc. to distribute materials to downtown Pottstown businesses.

“We have seen this event grow over the years. Small business owners wear many hats. The more tools you can give them, the better,” Dautrich said, adding that doing business with small businesses can have a bigger impact than expected.

“Maybe it creates a relationship — and you say ‘wow, what a great store.’ It makes a difference for you as a consumer, and for the business owner it could be the difference in staying open another year,” she said.

For more information visit https://www.facebook.com/TriCountyAreaChamber/

A countdown clock on the Phoenixville Regional Chamber of Commerce website, is counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds until Small Business Saturday 2019.

Capistrant said her organization has been promoting the event since 2011, and this is the sixth year it has been a neighborhood champion.

“We are definitely trying to make as much effort to remind businesses this is coming and to remind people to come to Phoenixville. And if they haven’t shopped here, help them realize a lot of shops have interesting and alternative gifts and shopping,” she said.

New this year in Phoenixville, according to Capistrant, is the chamber offices, 171 East Bridge St., will be open from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Nov. 30, serving as a welcome center.

“We encourage people to stop in, and get information about what’s open and what’s happening. We’ll have hot cocoa, cookies, a raffle, maps to help direct people,” she said.

“The health and well-being of the community can only happen when small businesses stay alive," said Sue Meadows, owner, Generations Toys in Phoenixville, adding that her store is located in what had been her grandfather's drugstore, built in 1929. 

Capistrant said even if you can’t get out on Small Business Saturday, there are still ways to support local businesses on that day.

“If you can’t be in your favorite place, you can share a post they made or something else on social media — maybe about the place or a product you like. It goes a long way,” she said.

To view Phoenixville’s countdown clock and view other information visit www.facebook.com/events/2145677482204531/

Virginia Lindak contributed to this story

Email business story ideas to business editor/writer drovins@21st-centurymedia.com.

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