In the rush and hub-bub kicked up by Black Friday mega sales at the big box retailers and chain stores, the local merchants — the mom and pop operations — have a message to get out: Shop local, shop small … we’ve got some bargains, too.
Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is a day dedicated to supporting small businesses nationwide.
Small Business Saturday is a shopping promotion held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, during one of the busiest shopping periods of the year. First celebrated in 2010, Small Business Saturday encourages shoppers to spend money at small and local stores.
Last year, more than 100 million people came together to “shop small” in their communities on Small Business Saturday.
Jennifer Wrenn, owner of Wrenn’s Jewelers in Rockingham, loves that the holiday shopping spotlight also falls on local, small businesses these days thanks to Small Business Saturday.
Wrenn not only offers special deals right now, but had her store open on Thanksgiving day and Friday.
Wrenn’s Jewelers is located at 1305 E. Broad Ave., Suite 9, in Rockingham. The shop will be open today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“Everyone hits the big retailers on Black Friday, so it’s nice to bring attention to the small local businesses, too,” said Wrenn.
To attract the gift buyers and their purchasing power, Wrenn has in stock one of the hottest selling items in jewelry these days: The Sideways Cross, which is literally a cross necklace on its side on the chain. The sterling silver Sideways Cross normally costs about $40, but today you can buy one for $20 at Wrenn’s.
“They are a very hot item this season,” Wrenn said.
Also at her store she has an assortment of Kameleon jewelry; it is interchangeable and comes in rings, pendants and bracelets.
“The stones pop in and out … it’s very popular now,” Wrenn said.
This is the big weekend when shoppers get seriously in the holiday mood, she said.
“Friday and Saturday are still great days for us. Even if lots of people hit the chain stores, they seem to still make it to the local shops,” Wrenn said.
Other area small and local businesses in Richmond County to check out this weekend include: Gifts Four All Seasons, at 1305 E. Broad Ave. Suite 23, Rockingham; The R.W. Goodman Co., 119 South Lee St., Rockingham; Razzle Dazzle Boutique, located at 32 W. Hamlet Ave., Hamlet, beside Ace Hardware; Farmers Home Furniture at 1788 E. Broad Ave., Rockingham; Classic Apparel, at 415 S. Hancock St., Rockingham; and many more.
Gregg Thompson, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, said shoppers can make a big difference in their communities this season by shopping at small businesses this Saturday.
“Black Friday is when people like to get up early and line up outside the chain stores, but if you’re looking for something unique and want to support your friends and neighbors, then you need to support Small Business Saturday,” he said. NFIB/North Carolina is the state’s leading small-business association.
The holiday shopping season is crucial to the state’s small businesses, which are still recovering from the slowdown in the economy. State-specific data isn’t available, but according to the NFIB Small-Business Optimism Index for October, the No. 1 problem facing small businesses remains weak sales.
“Small business is what our economy is all about, and if we’re going to create jobs, we need a healthy small-business community,” Thompson said.
According to the inaugural Small Business Saturday Insights Survey, released Nov. 8 by NFIB and American Express, nearly half of all independent merchants planned to incorporate Small Business Saturday into their holiday marketing plans, while 67 percent planned to offer special discounts today.
NFIB wants to lend a hand and put small businesses front and center by helping small and independent businesses to get the word out online about their best Small Business Saturday deals. Small business owners can visit www.NFIB.com/smallbizsat to submit information about their business and why shoppers should visit on Nov. 24. NFIB will promote these submissions on NFIB.com and in front of NFIB’s 150,000 Facebook fans and 30,000 Twitter followers.
Supporting small businesses at the holidays pays dividends throughout the year, Thompson said.
“Small and independent business owners are among the most generous supporters of civic groups, local charities, youth sports, schools and virtually every other form of community activity,” he said. “Shopping locally is a great way for people to help their friends and neighbors and create jobs and opportunities in the places where they live.”
If you still have some cash left after all the big and small sales, get your mouse button ready and check out the vast array of online deals on Monday, Nov. 26 — aka, Cyber Monday.
Shop smart and safe
Many North Carolina consumers have already started shopping for the holidays, and Attorney General Cooper and the Better Business Bureau of Central North Carolina are encouraging them to take steps to avoid common problems such as items that can’t be returned, gift cards that can’t be used and orders that never arrive.
“For many families, giving gifts to loved ones is an important part of holiday celebrations,” Cooper said. “You can make the holidays even more enjoyable if you learn how to avoid potential headaches, shop smart and spend wisely.”
“During the holidays, we ask you to pay special attention to family and friends who are senior citizens. These people are usually the first victims of con artists. Their willingness to talk to strangers makes them vulnerable,” said Kevin Hinterberger, president and CEO of the BBB of Central N.C “Make sure senior citizens in your circle of friends and family know where their money is going.”
Cooper and the BBB offer these helpful tips:
• Buy from stores you know. Buying from reputable retailers improves the odds that you’ll be able to return or exchange a purchase if needed. To check out a company’s track record, call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or contact your local Better Business Bureau.
• Shop safely online, too. If you shop online, stick to buying from well-established companies with secure web sites (look for a lock icon on the site and a web address that starts with “https”). Get the company’s street address and telephone number and verify them before you place an order.
• Learn about refund and return policies. Stores aren’t required by law to accept returned merchandise, so ask about refunds and return policies before you buy. Many retailers offer store credit instead of a cash refund, and some charge a “restocking fee” for returns. Hang on to receipts, and remember to print receipts for online purchase and keep invoices that arrive with mail order gifts. If your purchase came by mail, you may have to pay shipping costs to return it.
• Consider paying by credit card to improve your chances of getting a refund if the retailer goes out of business. If you order a gift that never arrives, you may be able to dispute the charge. Also, if your credit card is lost or stolen, federal law limits your liability to $50.
• Giving gift cards or certificates? If you buy a gift certificate with a credit card and the store or restaurant closes before the certificate can be used, you may be able to contest the charge through your credit card company. Under North Carolina law, retailers can’t charge a maintenance fee on their gift cards within the first year and must clearly disclose any fees they’ll deduct from the value of the gift card after that.
• Give wisely. Planning to make a donation as part of your holiday gift giving? Learn where your money will go and how it will be used. Research charities with the BBB’s Wise Giving Alliance and the NC Secretary of State’s Office. Give to causes that you choose rather than being swayed by high-pressure telemarketers or text messages and emails that may be scams.
• Criminals and scammers don’t take a holiday. Always be aware of your surroundings and protect your wallet and access to your credit or debit cards when in public. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Consider paying by credit card because federal law limits your liability if your credit card is stolen. And never share personal information with telemarketers who call you or respond to emails or text messages that ask you for personal information.
To check out a company with the Attorney General’s Office or file a consumer complaint, call 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free within North Carolina or visit www.ncdoj.gov. To check out a company’s record or file a complaint with your local Better Business Bureau, visit www.bbb.org.
— Editor John Charles Robbins can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 13, or by email at email@example.com.