HARBESON — The idea for Small Business Saturday was hatched to help the economy after the Great Recession.
But now, as the world is dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, business leaders are again encouraging shoppers to look local.
American Express and the U.S. Small Business Administration launched Small Business Saturday in 2010. The next year, the U.S. Senate officially recognized the initiative.
And according to economy watchers, the push toward shopping small has worked big time.
“Even as our nation contends with the COVID-19 pandemic, America’s support for small business is unwavering. In 2020, American shoppers spent $19.8 billion on Small Business Saturday. This year, forecasters are predicting an even bigger holiday shopping season,” said SBA Delaware District Director John Fleming in a statement.
“That’s great news for small businesses nationwide and here, in Delaware. Many of our small businesses continue their recovery efforts, defying COVID-driven headwinds just to keep their doors open.”
This week, SBA and Delaware Small Business Development Center officials have been traveling the state to highlight some of the small businesses shoppers should visit today.
One such business is gingham + grace clothing in Harbeson.
The women’s apparel boutique is owned by Jami Jackson and provides multiple ways to shop.
“I have a huge passion for just busy women in general. I feel like we tend to not put ourselves first. We put everybody else first, with carting kids around and all that good stuff,” Ms. Jackson said.
Her warehouse/retail store is in Building 2 at 26832 Lewes-Georgetown Highway. Ms. Jackson also has an app and an online store here.
“I really wanted to focus on creating a clothing, apparel and accessories (store) for busy women with convenient shopping experiences (and) quality, affordable and very versatile clothing. So you ... can go from work, to going out, to date night, to the weekend, hanging out with your friends. A one-stop shop,” Ms. Jackson said.
A benefit to shopping at local retailers, versus online or larger chains, is that consumers may not have to wait to receive their purchases.
However, Ms. Jackson said she’s seen firsthand how supply chain issues have impacted shoppers.
“I think shipping has definitely been an issue,” she said. “I go to shows in Los Angeles or Dallas, Atlanta, New York, and there are certain items with anticipated delivery dates that have definitely been pushed back. We’ve seen some deadlines for deliveries be pushed back by several months.”
Betsy Beehler, owner of Rooted on Main in Newark, has also been gearing up for shoppers this weekend.
“We’ve noticed in the past week and the weekend, we’re getting more traffic from community members, which is nice because our traffic tends to be a lot of students during the week usually,” she said.
Ms. Beehler’s boutique features locally produced food, clothes and art.
“(Today) is really our day to shine because we are a small business that promotes a lot of other small businesses,” she said.
The first Rooted establishment can be found in New London, Pennsylvania.
“We are set for Christmas,” she said. “We are full on merchandise, but we don’t do any sales or doorbusters, since we work with local artists, so we really are representing their product.”
Ms. Beehler decided to open another store on Newark’s Main Street this summer, and she said it has been warmly welcomed by the community.
“We’ve made some nice connections with the University (of Delaware), and we’re trying to get involved in the community as much as possible,” she said. “We’ve been very welcomed by the customers and by other local business owners, so we’re really happy to be here.”
To help shoppers and businesses, SBA and SBDC have created a host of resources.
For retailers, the organizations have provided access to advertising tools and tips to reach customers this weekend and throughout the holiday season.
For shoppers, SBA and SBDC has a list of Small Business Saturday events throughout the state. It can be found here or by following the QR code found on flyers at many local stores and online.
Resources like the ones provided by such groups and the communities small-business owners create have been a big help in dealing with recent challenges.
“We are so fortunate that we have so many wonderful small businesses that are all here really to support one another. One of the things that I say all the time is ‘Community over competition,’ and there’s room at the table for all of us,” Ms. Jackson said.