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Small Business Saturday brings out local, loyal customers

By Megan Workman

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Supportive shoppers who walk into Ivor Sheff's upscale women's clothing boutique on Lee Street Saturday will step on a welcome mat that reads, 'Shop Small. Welcome to Small Business Saturday.'

Today is the third annual Small Business Saturday, a nationwide effort to boost revenues of small businesses during one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year.

Small Business Saturday follows Black Friday and precedes Cyber Monday, Black Friday's online counterpart. American Express created Small Business Saturday to encourage people to "support the small businesses that play a vital role in creating jobs and economic opportunities all across the country," U.S. Small Business Administration chief Karen Gordon Mills said on the company's website.

"We're the local people and we won't have any local businesses if local people don't shop here," said Sheff, who owns Ivor's Trunk. "If local people don't support my store I would have to fire all my employees. You have to support small businesses because we're owned by local people and if they don't get that support, they'll move to a community that would support them."

Small and new businesses have created two out of every three net new jobs in the U.S., Mills said on the SBA's site. More than half of all working Americans own or work for a small business, "the backbone of our communities," she said.

An estimated 103 million Americans shopped on Small Business Saturday last year, according to American Express.

Sheff said shoppers support his store, and small businesses, because -- unlike at big-box stores -- someone is always there to answer their questions.

Shoppers who visit Sheff's clothing store will see discounts all around, he said. Pashmina scarves that normally cost $25 are on sale Saturday. Three scarves will cost $25. Mam' earrings, which are handcrafted in Texas, are 50 percent off the regular price. Customers also will save 25 percent off all clothing in the store Saturday.

Although Sheff said he didn't promote the special day much himself, he has seen an increase in promotions for the event on television.

Public awareness increased to 65 percent in 2011, compared to 36 percent in 2010, according to American Express.

Like many stores, Sheff said Ivor's Trunk sales on Saturday are an extension of the already-happening Black Friday sales.

The Charleston Department Store is continuing its Black Friday special -- 20 percent off most of the store's merchandise -- until Sunday, said store Vice President Dale Haynes.

"Last year we had a nice spike on Saturday. In the past, the Saturday sale has been better than Black Friday," Hayes said Friday. "We were busy today and I think we'll be busy tomorrow. We do quite a bit of business and see people from out of town who are visiting their families."

To learn more information or to find out where to shop, visit https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/Shop-Small/#shop_small.

Reach Megan Workman at megan.workman@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.


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