Small Business Saturday puts the focus on local entrepreneurs

Saturday is the special day set aside for people looking to support local businesses and get bargains.

Dayton region businesses will offer deals and unique items for sale on Small Business Saturday.

“When you shop small, you are not only supporting your own community, you are supporting someone’s dream,” said Carly Short, one of the co-owners of three Oregon District businesses, Heart Mercantile, Luna Gifts and Beck & Call.

Credit: Heart Mercantile

Credit: Heart Mercantile

Pop-up shops outside those businesses will give people even more opportunities to buy local on Saturday, she said.

“Small businesses are what give our city character, build community, and what makes Dayton such a wonderful place to live,” Short said. “We are a city of dreamers and makers, and our hope is that the community continues to show up as it always has and keep this wonderful spirit alive.”

Small Business Saturday last year brought $19.8 billion in sales in the U.S. — up from $19.6 billion in 2019 — to independent retailers and restaurants, according to American Express, which founded the event in 2010. Fifty-six percent of those shoppers made a purchase online, an increase from 2019′s 43%.

“It really is a focus of supporting locally owned small businesses,” said Sandy Gudorf, president of the Downtown Dayton Partnership. “It’s a huge deal for our small businesses.”

And with the city’s holiday festivities kicking off on Friday with the Grande Illumination tree lighting on Courthouse Square, people who come downtown on Saturday will have lots to see.

Davia Allen, owner of Vidia’s Closet, is offering 25% off all items in her St. Clair Lofts’ women’s apparel and accessories store in downtown Dayton.

“It’s a way for us as a small business to get out there,” Allen said. “With the pandemic, a lot of people aren’t comfortable going into a large setting.”

She expanded her e-commerce site to the physical store last year, and said that with safety protocols in place, she was able to have a successful opening despite the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, she’s considering a second storefront in the Dayton area, and expanding to men’s apparel.

“Business is good,” Allen said.

Smaller retailers boosted their online presence during the pandemic as consumers turned to shopping from home, said Meghan Keivel Cruz, director of grassroots for the National Retail Federation.

“Smaller retailers are hopeful that the consumer will turn to small businesses to find that really unique personal gift that you can’t find scrolling on those large retailer sites,” she said.

About 92 percent of independent shops participating in Small Business Saturday “say it helps their business stand out during the busy holiday shopping season,” said Roger Geiger, Ohio executive director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

“It’s an opportunity to introduce themselves to new customers who they hope will become regulars once they experience a heightened level of service and knowledge,” Geiger said.

The supply chain issues plaguing larger retailers dependent on shipments from Asia can also have an impact on small retailers, said Keivel Cruz. Gudorf said she has heard some local businesses are experiencing challenges.

“I know our businesses are geared up to have as much inventory on hand so they can respond and react to their customers,” she said.

Short said she and the other co-owners of the three Oregon District shops planned ahead to have items shipped well in advance of the holiday season and to find back-ups for items that didn’t arrive.

Credit: Heart Mercantile

Credit: Heart Mercantile

“We buy a lot of products from smaller or mid-sized makers from all over the country, and they have done a great job of keeping items in stock and getting us the items we need in time for our Christmas shopping season,” Short said.

Allen also said she hasn’t had supply problems because she buys most of her products in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Chicago.

A NFIB survey in Ohio found 64% percent of its members at independent businesses of all types were having moderate to severe supply chain issues.

“Given the supply chain shortages of so many products, check with your locally owned small business retailer, and they may very well have the last item on your Christmas list, or something equally unique and surprising to be placed under your holiday tree,” Geiger said.

Downtown Dayton was fortunate that it lost few businesses during the pandemic, Gudorf said. The partnership’s Downtown Dollars e-gift card program for 80 downtown retailers and restaurants was so popular, it is being continued.

“I am convinced that one of the primary reasons, the main reasons, that we didn’t lose businesses is because of this community,” Gudorf said. “The community came out. They value these locally owned businesses, and they continued to support these businesses.”

Keivel Cruz said the goal for this year’s Small Business Saturday event “is to remind the community that small business is the backbone of their community and to have fun and to make some sales over the weekend.”

“The holiday season is a special time for guests to explore our town center and find the perfect gifts for their friends and families,” said Leanne Rubosky, general manager of the Mall at Fairfield Commons in Beavercreek. “At the Mall at Fairfield Commons, we are proud to be home to more than 30 small businesses that help keep our community thriving. Through Show Love. Shop Small, guests can show their support for local businesses starting on Small Business Saturday and continuing throughout the entire holiday shopping season.”



The state of Ohio’s Department of Development is also encouraging Ohioans to buy local.

“For many families, including mine, holiday shopping is an annual tradition that usually includes eating at a favorite restaurant, catching some holiday lights and buying sweet treats,” said Lydia Mihalik, the department director. “We encourage Ohioans to get out and take advantage of all the wonderful stores, restaurants and other great destinations that we’re lucky to have here in Ohio.”

Gudorf said locally owned retail, restaurants, brew pubs and service salons don’t have the financial backing of the chains and the big box kind of retail, so they can use the extra holiday season boost.

“They need us now more than ever,” Gudorf said. “This is an opportunity to support these locally owned businesses. We are doing everything we can to close 2021 strong.”

Small Business Saturday by the numbers

58.1 million: People plan to shop on Small Business Saturday

$19.8 billion: Amount spent at independent retailers and restaurants on Small Business Saturday 2020

$68 of every $100: Spent at local businesses stays in local economy

24%: Of U.S. consumers plan to shop specifically at a local or small business

Sources: National Federation of Independent Businesses-Ohio, National Retail Federation and American Express

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