Local businesses gear up for Small Business Saturday

Published 10:57 am Wednesday, October 31, 2018

As with so many successful projects, they start out as good ideas often on a small scale and then gradually grow through experience and time. The national Small Business Saturday is the case in point here.

According to americanexpress.com, the company launched the campaign in 2010 as a way to support local businesses, which were still struggling in the recession. This was scheduled to take place on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving as a way “to encourage people to ‘Shop Small’ and bring more holiday shopping to small businesses.”

Even after a year, reported American Express, the idea had caught on coast to coast and got a resolution of support by the U.S. Senate.

One of the support mechanisms is Neighborhood Champions, which gets the word out about the event through advertising, social media or local events. There were a reported 7,200 such support groups in 2017. An estimated 109 million people reported they had shopped or dined at a local and independently owned business on that day last year.

A survey conducted to gauge success reported that “90 percent of consumers said that Small Business Saturday has had a positive impact on their community.”

In Western Tidewater, the campaign got started in 2014, said Ashley Cotton, marketing and business manager for the Franklin Southampton Economic Development Inc.

“We are Neighborhood Champions for our community, also since 2014,” she said. “In the past, an average of 30 businesses have participated, and we hope that number will be the same.”

She added that 16 small businesses in Franklin and Southampton County have already signed up to participate; 11 of which are based in downtown. There’s still time to join the fun; the deadline is on Wednesday, Oct. 31. The main event is on Nov. 24.

“I personally really love Small Business Saturday because local businesses go above and beyond to make it a special day for their customers,” said Cotton. “It’s my favorite thing we do every year.”

She continued, “It’s a win-win for everyone. It’s great to see businesses and make it a special day for their customers and show their appreciation through this program. It’s a fun day.”

As one might expect, the local Chamber is a big cheerleader.

“The Franklin-Southampton Area Chamber is thrilled to once again participate as a Neighborhood Champion for Small Business Saturday,” said Teresa Beale, executive director. “It is the small businesses that truly make our community unique. We encourage everyone to shop local year round, and Small Business Saturday is a great opportunity to show support for these hard-working entrepreneurs. It is vital to our economy that we all shop local first.”

‘It just makes sense to support the local economy’

The first five businesses that signed up to participate in Small Business Saturday were granted the opportunity to tell people more about their businesses in the form of a small questionnaire. Here are their reasons for participating:

Dora Gurganus of Gurganus Peanuts, Capron

1. What does Small Business Saturday mean to you?

“A wonderful opportunity to emphasize small businesses in small localities and to promote the gourmet Virginia jumbo peanut. To encourage young entrepreneurs to start new businesses and be a part of helping their local community grow and thrive. I appreciate the time, work and effort that Franklin-Southampton Economic Development puts into encouraging local citizens to ‘shop-small!’”

2. Why do you choose to do business in Franklin/Southampton County?

“My husband, Ricky, is a farmer and our home and family are here in the county. After opening a peanut-buying station for area farmers’ Virginia peanuts, we decided to start selling Virginia peanuts.

We opened Gurganus Peanut Outlet in 1991. Contributing to the local economy and the county’s tax revenue community is a plus especially in a small, rural area.”

3. What would you say to encourage other businesses to participate?

“Why not? It’s a great opportunity to remind the community of the sometimes forgotten small-town shops. We often take for granted what we have right here at our fingertips. It just makes sense to support the local economy to ensure we have this great place to enjoy and raise families for generations to come.”

4. What do you offer your customers that can’t be found by traveling out of town?

“Locally owned and operated family-business. Local, unique products. Friendly and individualized customer service.

“We are small in size, but big at heart. We do our best, trusting God to do the rest and know that BIG things can happen when you do the LITTLE things right.

“My job here is to sell peanuts, but my joy is to share the Lord with others.” 

Collin Pulley of Nottoway House, Courtland

From left are Graham Pulley, founder and owner of Nottoway House at 28470 Southampton Parkway on Route 58 in Courtland, and Collin Pulley, general manager.

1. What does Small Business Saturday mean to you?

“Small Business Saturday is an opportunity for businesses such as ours to let the public know that small businesses perform an important service to the community. We pay local taxes to help our county; we donate to local charities; and we keep funds in this area.”

2. Why do you choose to do business in Franklin/Southampton County?

“Nottoway House Furniture has been in Southampton County since 1955. We have prospered here because of the support of our neighbors.”

3. What would you say to encourage other businesses to participate?

“I would encourage other businesses to participate in Small Business Saturday as a means to get the message out about the great products and services that we offer.”

4. What do you offer your customers that can’t be found by traveling out of town?

“We provide free local delivery; and we stand behind our products. Our prices are competitive and often less expensive than the “big city” and “box stores.” I’ve had customers ask me “How can your prices on Ashley Furniture be cheaper than the Ashley stores?”

Barbara Nixon of Lavender and Lace, Franklin

At right, Barbara Nixon, owner of Lavender and Lace on 109 E. Second Ave., with her niece, Bailey Wilkerson. — Stephen H. Cowles | Tidewater News

1. What does Small Business Saturday mean to you?

“Participating in small business Saturday just makes good business sense. It’s the one day devoted to small business owners across the country. It’s a day of recognition and support to all of us that are living our dream.”

2. Why do you choose to do business in Franklin/Southampton County?

“Franklin/Southampton County is my HOME! It’s all I know and I am proud to have lived the “small town life” for 60 years. We truly care about each other and support each other through the good and the bad. Downtown Franklin is a wonderful place to do business. It’s special to me because I came in at a time when growth was at an all-time high. So many new businesses and more to come.”

3. What would you say to encourage other businesses to participate?

“The support from the DFA and Economic Development and The Chamber of Commerce is awesome. They want you to succeed!”

4. What do you offer your customers that can’t be found by traveling out of town?

“In my store, your shopping experience is personal. I take the time to get to know my customers and listen to their suggestions and comments. I work hard to carry quality merchandise at affordable prices. My selections are unique, and I only buy in limited quantities. That’s important in a small town, especially in fashion. Every woman wants to be different and not see the same outfit on 10 other people at the same function. There’s no hustle bustle in my store. It’s fun, relaxing and personal. And most importantly, my customers are treated with respect — greeted with a smile and hello and leave knowing they are special and truly appreciated.”

Michael Parker of Vintage, Franklin

Michael Parker of Vintage on 103 N. Main St.

1. What does Small Business Saturday mean to you?

“At Vintage, we see Small Business Saturday as an investment into the community. When money is spent at small, local businesses, there is a multiplier effect that positively impacts Franklin. Small business owners and employees tend to spend locally themselves for business-to-business and personal shopping. That means that the direct and indirect benefits of shopping at small businesses is multiplied. If residents make a commitment to shop small and shop locally, Franklin wins. This one Saturday event simply highlights what can be done if shopping small becomes a habit all year long.”

2. Why do you choose to do business in Franklin/Southampton County?

“We love the energy and the customer loyalty in downtown Franklin. We feel strongly that Franklin is on a path to re-emerge as one of the best downtown scenes in the Commonwealth of Virginia for shopping, dining and entertainment. We have invested here for those reasons.”

3. What would you say to encourage other businesses to participate?

“All small businesses must work together to build a coalition that promotes shopping small and shopping locally. If everyone participates and we all work together, our customer base broadens and the overall experience in downtown Franklin becomes more attractive to shoppers.”

4. What do you offer your customers that can’t be found by traveling out of town?

“Vintage offers the most unique shopping experience in the area for gifts, home decor and antiques. We have exclusive local rights to several national brands, we offer world-class items from local artisans, and we showcase amazing antiques from some of the areas top collectors. And we do all of that at prices that simply can’t be matched by anyone else in our niche area. People routinely drive from hours away to visit Vintage because of our value proposition … high quality mechanisms at incredible prices. We hope that the local residents who haven’t visited will soon find us to be a gem in Downtown Franklin.”

Mary Morris of Mackans, Franklin

Susan M. Jones of Mackans Office Supply and Printing at 108 N. Main St., Franklin.

1. What does Small Business Saturday mean to you?

“It is a chance to show the community the advantages of shopping from locally owned businesses. With the cooperative advertising done through SBS it offers a chance to educate the public on how shopping local affects their community as well as celebrate those small business owners who get up everyday to pour their heart and soul into their business. We go home every night excited to get up the next day and do it all over again. We are proud and passionate about owning a small business.”

2. Why do you choose to do business in Franklin/Southampton County?

“My sister and I grew up here in Franklin. Our parents started this business in 1974, and we chose to return to our hometown in the early ‘90’s to work with our parents. We got a chance to raise our families together,  and that has kept us close to each other. Our children have been raised almost as brothers and sisters instead of cousins, and that has kept them close so much so that they are considering returning to Franklin to live. They, like us, realize the quality of life in Franklin/Southampton is better than in most cities. We regard our customers as an extended family ,and we can’t image doing business anywhere else.”

3. What would you say to encourage other businesses to participate?

“Being open on Small Business Saturday is an opportunity to showcase what they have to offer their community. It is a day just for us, and we get to show people how inviting and personal it is to shop with a locally owned business.”

4. What do you offer your customers that can’t be found by traveling out of town?

“Where do I begin? Let’s start with basic math. First of all, you don’t have to fill up your gas tank to shop locally. Instant savings right there. Then you don’t have spend all that time in a car traveling out of town to shop, which saves you several hours because we all know how little time there is to get things done. Next, you get to feel good because you know that 48 percent of the money you spend locally goes back into your own community. That’s a great boost for our local schools. But I think the best part is that you are shopping with your friends and neighbors that own businesses. This means that not only are you showing them that you support them, but you also get to spend a little time visiting with them. Making connections with people is what life is all about anyway. At least that is how my sister and I feel here at Mackans.”