Angelenos have likely seen their share of Black Friday commercials on television and Cyber Monday ads online. But if shoppers are looking to fill the void in between, Small Business Saturday offers ways to help smaller, local operations in a big way.
Created by American Express, the first Small Business Saturday (SBS) started in 2010 to rally community support for local businesses and to help owners with their most pressing need: more customers. In 2011, the day became more or less official when city and state leaders and President Barack Obama voiced support for the day. An SBS consumer survey found that shoppers continued to recognize the day as approximately 88 million customers at small independent businesses spent an estimated $14.3 billion on SBS in 2014.
Between 2004-2013 in Los Angeles, establishments with fewer than 20 employees increased by 71 percent, compared to businesses with more than 100 employees that decreased during that time, according to Mayor Garcetti’s office.
“Small businesses are the lifeblood of L.A.’s economy, which thrives on the strength of its innovative entrepreneurs,” Garcetti said in a statement. “Nearly 90 percent of the establishments in our city have fewer than 20 employees, and Angelenos can ensure these small businesses continue thriving and feeding our local economy by putting their purchasing power to good use at the local level.”
According to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), 77 percent of U.S. consumers are planning to “shop small” this weekend. NFIB found that consumers plan to do 35 percent of their holiday shopping at small businesses.
“Small Business Saturday has grown every year, and it’s been a big boost to Main Street America,” said NFIB CEO and president Dan Danner.
The Larchmont Boulevard Association will support the “holiday” by providing a trolley that will run on Larchmont Boulevard from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. It will also bring shoppers to see Santa Claus at the Wilshire Rotary club Christmas tree lot at 568 N. Larchmont Blvd. Musicians will play from 12-5 p.m. at various locations along the boulevard.
Edie Frère, membership chair with the Larchmont Boulevard Association, said shoppers can find SBS deals at Ampersan Boutique, CH Boutique, Devall Design & Home, Hans Custom Optik, Healing Hands, Landis Gift & Stationary and Chevalier’s Books.
Steve Kramer, president of the Miracle Mile Chamber of Commerce, said he strongly supports the holiday. He pointed to shops around the Miracle Mile that strengthen the area and “represent the heart of small businesses in this country.”
“If all you have is a Wal-Mart, you’ll have very limited choices,” he said.
He pointed out that the areas around Pico Boulevard have grown and improved because of small businesses that he said are now opening one after another.
Christine Johnson, owner of Miracle Mile Toys and Games at 5363 Wilshire Blvd., said her store will celebrate this year by offering discounts, extended hours, live performances, do-it-yourself origami ornaments, tattoos and gift bags.
“We’re really looking forward to a great day to meet people in the community as we start the holiday season,” Johnson said.
Johnson said she is joining with Fatima Dodson at Runway Boutique at 807 S. La Brea Ave. and other local businesses to launch the “Miracle Mile Small Business Stroll.” The small group of owners is working to organize the stroll as a monthly event for the Miracle Mile area, similar to SBS. Dodson started a Facebook page for the stroll where small businesses can list their specials for the day.
“Small Business Saturday is the beginning and we’re going to make it bigger and better,” Dodson said.
She said the idea is to encourage other small businesses to use unique and special ways to make businesses more festive with live DJs and giveaways to encourage people to come out and support the local community.
On Saturday, some small businesses around Olympic Boulevard and La Brea Avenue will display white and blue balloons to signify participation in SBS. Neighbors who shop at the stores are eligible to receive a $30 gift card.
Other small businesses participating in SBS around the Miracle Mile include Ainyahs Boutique, Gourmets on Wheels, Amy Ming Jewelry, El Diner, Starfish Sushi, Mixt Greens Miracle Mile, Johnnies New York Pizza, The Counter Atticus Creamery and Pies, Fiddler’s Bistro and Jessica Café.
The West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce partnered with American Express to help promote SBS in the area. Chamber staff sent information to members on how to participate, and will send “swag” bags to small businesses in West Hollywood that include display items to help encourage customers to support the smaller businesses. Chamber staff went to small businesses on the Sunset Strip, Santa Monica Boulevard and in the Melrose Design District on Tuesday and Wednesday to encourage them to hang fliers for SBS.
Leron Gubler, Hollywood Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, also supports Small Business Saturday.
“If any sector of employment is important, it is our small businesses, and they deserve to be celebrated,” Gubler said in an email.
Councilman Paul Krekorian, 2nd District, introduced two motions this week to support business growth and development in Los Angeles. According to his office, the first motion urges the creation of a city business unit “that cuts the red tape and provides a one-stop shop” for information about city and state services, programs and incentives, and that will help local business open, relocate or build in Los Angeles. The second motion seeks to create a Small Business Commission to support and encourage the growth of local small businesses.
To participate and support SBS, consumers and small businesses are encouraged to use the #ShopSmall hashtag on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
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