GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Beth Dornan is taking a different approach to her holiday shopping this year.
The Rockford resident is committing to Small Business Saturday and staying away from sprawling shopping centers and ubiquitous big box retailers.
“I’m not stepping foot in the mall, or any other store, and saving my spending for local merchants,” said Dornan, whose pledge doesn’t include her two teen daughters who went shopping at Woodland Mall on Black Friday.
“I like the idea of sitting out Black Friday shopping because it makes a bigger statement than simply focusing on local small business spending for one day.”
That thinking is growing Small Business Saturday into a major economic boom for independent businesses across West Michigan and the country. The campaign was launched in 2010 by American Express to encourage people to buy from independent retailers and other small businesses the Saturday after Thanksgiving and Black Friday.
Dornan sees her decision as a tangible way to support locally-owned businesses that create jobs, drive growth and keep dollars in the community.
Some of the places she plans to visit on Saturday, Nov. 29, include the Grand Rapids Downtown Market and independently owned retailers Martha’s Vineyard, BlackLamb, Rebel Reclaimed and Paperdoll.
The Downtown Market, at 435 Ionia Ave. SW, is rewarding shoppers on Small Business Saturday with $10 in Market Money for every $50 spent Downtown Market gift cards or class gift certificates. The market’s currency is valid at any Downtown Market business from Jan. 1 through Feb. 1.
Several Downtown Market businesses are doing their own promotions:
• Malamiah Juice Bar is offering buy one, get one free juice.
• Relish Green Grocer is giving 25 percent discount on some of its Michigan made products.
• Fish Lads, a seafood vendor, is selling $60 gift cards for $50 through Dec. 5.
“We had a great weekend last year after Thanksgiving. A lot of people were out doing their holiday shopping,” said Claire Duthler, special events manager for the Downtown Market. “A lot of our customers prefer to shop locally and support the local community.”
American Express also has a promotion that gives up to three $10 credits on its customers’ next statement for those who shop at qualifying small business locations. The catch is that card holders have to register at ShopSmall.com by Nov. 29, or before the limit is reached.
The seasonal promotion builds on West Michigan “buy local” campaigns. Small businesses in communities with organizations like Local First, that promote shop local, averaged a 8.6 percent increase in sales in 2012 from the previous year, according to the American Independent Business Alliance, a network of community business organizations.
That’s more than double the growth in communities without campaigns.
In Grand Rapids, the Uptown Holiday Shop Hop on Dec. 4 is another event that spotlights locally-owned businesses.
This year, Tarona Guy moved her annual West Michigan Small Business Expo to Celebration! Cinema North and IMAX, at 2121 Celebration Dr NE.
The bigger space allows her to provide a free lunch to shoppers and offer a presentation by local attorney Angela T. Ross, Guy said.
She added the event, which runs 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 29, will include free samples and giveaways from the participating businesses.
Shandra Martinez covers business for MLive/The Grand Rapids Press. Email her or follow her on Twitter @shandramartinez.
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