Saturday was a day for small, locally owned businesses to stand a little taller in the eyes of customers and competitors.
At a time when big-box retailers offer marked-up “discounts” and thousands of locations with sprawling parking lots, smaller locally based businesses seek to assert themselves. “Small Business Saturday” — nestled between “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” — has been one way to do that since the day’s first incarnation in 2010.
“I’m sick of being nice,” said Danielle Fritz, who with her family owns Centerville Coin & Jewelry Connection and the American Pi stores in Dayton and Lebanon. “I’m trying to tell people that if you don’t support me, I can’t do what I do in my community for you.”
Local shopping keeps dollars local, smaller retailers argue. That means local employment and support of local charities and nonprofits, they say.
“If we as a small business cannot survive, what’s going to happen?” said Shirley Fritz, Danielle Fritz’ mother and co-owner of the family’s Miami Valley stores.
“The employment that we support — I always tell people there’s such a ripple effect,” Danielle Fritz said.
“If you don’t have small businesses, you don’t have a community,” said Alex Staiger, co-owner with his brother Greg of Omega Music in Dayton’s Oregon District.
Small businesses represent 99.7 percent of all firms that employ people, according to the federal government. They created 65 percent of new jobs in the past 17 years.
The Small Business Administration estimates that 70 million customers spent $5.5 billion nationally on 2012’s Small Business Saturday.
The shopping season between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a crucial one for mom-and-pops and small retailers, some pointing to that month as providing about 40 percent or more of annual sales.
“What we make in the next month, the next 30 days, has to support us for the next three months, into the (new) year,” Fritz said.
To combat the broader presence and marketing budgets of bigger retailers, the Fritz family tries to spread the word about how important small shops are. But retailers also try to set themselves apart through more eclectic offerings.
Greg Bonnett, co-owner with his brother Greg of Bonnett’s Book Store in the Oregon District, said customers visit his Fifth Street shop “if they want something to jump out at them.”
Bonnett’s may feel cramped initially, but it’s filled ceiling to floor with used books, vintage magazines and curios that don’t interest national retailers.
“You’re just not going to find it anywhere else,” Bonnett said.
“I love books, and I support bookstores over the new technology,” said Dayton’s Steven Bell, who could be found browsing Bonnett’s shelves Saturday. “I don’t really like reading from off a screen.”
Bell added: “If I can give it (my business) to small businesses, I’d rather do that.”
Jenny Anderson, co-owner of Sew Dayton on Wayne Avenue, is confident that message is starting to sink in among consumers in general.
“I think people are starting to realize what the community mom-and-pop stores can do,” Anderson said.